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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 














Author of The Life of Nathaniel Macon, Life of Jefferson Davis, Mte. 


jtll rights reserved 


C0PY«IGHT, 191 1 


Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 191 1 


Printed at 

Berwick & Smith Company, Norwood, Massachnaetts 



Co ggg jFatlJct 


THE substance of the following papers has 
been presented in the form of popular lec- 
tures at the University of California, the 
University of Indiana, the University of Chicago, 
Richmond and Randolph Macon Colleges and it 
cannot be expected that the treatment of these 
interesting Southern leaders of the olden time will 
be found entirely free from the defects of the 
lecture method. Still it is hoped that the point 
of view and the interpretation of certain facts and 
conditions of the Southern and national evolution 
may justify the publication of these studies. 

The author is under obligations to Mr. C. D. 
Johns, of the University of Chicago, for reading 
the entire proof and for making the index. 

Wm. E. DodD: 

University of Ghiicago 
July 20, 191 1 


Preface vii 

Thomas Jefferson i 

John C. Calhoun 91 

Jefferson Davis 171 

Index 239 







THOMAS JEFFERSON is a name to con- 
jure with in the United States. Extreme 
individualists who desire to exploit the 
resources of the nation and re-establish feudalism 
in thfe world, make pious pilgrimages to Monti- 
cello; radical democrats who feel that the prin- 
ciples of the Declaration of Independence are 
about to perish from the earth, regard the great 
Virginia leader as their patron saint; and social- 
ists appeal to the writings of Jefferson for grave 
opinions to justify the "regime of the future." 
Andrew Jackson overturned the old Jefferson 
party in the name of its founder and Abraham 
Lincoln based his arguments against slavery upon 
well-known passages from the famous Notes on 


Virginia^ while Jefferson Davis believed from 
the bottom of his heart that secession and civil 
war, even on behalf of slavery, was only an appli- 
cation of the doctrine of the Virginia and Ken- 
tucky resolutions! And Jefferson himself gave 
reason for many of these divergent and irrecon- 
cilable views; in his published writings there is 
abundant justification for the contentions of these 
present-day followers, though the man, were he 
still with us, would speedily repudiate any and 
all who deny the full and complete application of 
the doctrine of democracy, that is the democracy 
of Lincoln as against slavery, of Bryan as against 
Wall street, of the West as against the East. 
Jefferson would have been a populist in 1892 or 
an insurgent in 19 10. 

"Jefferson, the populist." With this rather 
startling idea in mind, let us look into the life 
of the "Man of the Mountain," as John Randolph 
was accustomed to say. 

Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas, was a 
westerner, a land surveyor and Indian fighter, a 
character not unlike that of Daniel Boone, vigor- 
ous, rough, close-fisted. The colony of Virginia 


employed him to survey her southern boundary 
line and like most other surveyors of land he 
patented a good deal for himself and settled upon 
it during the fourth decade of the eighteenth 
century to "grow up with the back-country." 
He came into such good standing with Isham 
Randolph of Dungeness that he was given one 
of the daughters, of whom there were usually 
many among the great clans of Virginia, to wife. 
Thomas was therefore well born, though no aris- 
tocrat. The young boy was put to school with a 
Scotch pedagogue in Louisa county — the home at 
that time of radical democracy and hard-headed 
Presbyterian dissent. But the schooling was 
good and the environment better in view of the 
coming career of the boy. In Louisa county 
men wore buckskin breeches, Indian moccasins 
and hunting shirts without coats to cover them, 
crowned with coonskin caps. There was still 
much hunting of deer and turkeys among the 
hills and mountains of Louisa — the fine country 
made famous a hundred years later by the 
marches of Lee and Jackson and the two great 
battles at Manassas — and a slender stooping 


youth from neighboring Hanover had already 
made a name for himself in that region by his 
"long hunts" and popular ways. The Hanover 
hunter was none other than Patrick Henry 
and he wore buckskin breeches and a coonskin 
cap like his new found neighbors. Louisa, next 
to Augusta, was the greatest county in Virginia, 
and it was filled with the cabins of a teeming 
population of farmers and small proprietors who 
had escaped the hard conditions of the ridges and 
sandy plains of the old counties between the James 
and York and the York and Rappahannock 
rivers. Orange, Rappahannock and Augusta 
counties made up the West, the first "land of 
opportunity" for the restless people of the "Tide- 
water." And this west extended from a little 
above the present Richmond to the sites of Cincin- 
nati and Pittsburg — a princely domain which in 
young Jefferson's day was filled with game and 
Indians and the fathers of the men who planned 
the Revolution and largely fought its battles. 
Not only the Jeffersons, but the Madisons, Mon- 
roes, Marshalls and Lewises dwelt in this region, 
and here Washington surveyed Fairfax lands and 


later found recruits for his army when all other 
sections failed him. 

With a thorough training in the rudiments of 
Latin and Greek and an even more thorough 
knowledge of the strong men of the backwoods, 
young Jefferson was next sent, at the age of seven- 
teen, to the College of William and Mary, then the 
best seat of learning in America. He was very 
tall, very awkward, timid by nature, uncomfort- 
able in the presence of greatness and exceedingly 
homely. He had the distinction of being the 
homeliest youth in school — his eyes were gray-blue 
and restless, his cheek bones were high and his 
thin freckled skin covered no superfluous flesh, 
while his hands and feet were large and bony. 

Naturally gifted and always ready to learn, he 
studied his environment, "sized up" his com- 
panions and professors and within a short time 
was gaining more from the new environment, it is 
safe to say, than any other youth in school. Aris- 
tocratic Virginia centered in and around Williams- 
burg. In the town were the winter houses of the 
great planters who came in to attend the sessions 
of His Majesty's royal council when the burgesses 


assembled which, like the House of Commons in 
England, generally met the last week of Novem- 
ber. The great wigs of Virginia drove into 
.Williamsburg in their stately but creaking family 
carriages preceded by outriders, front and rear, 
to scare off the pigs and cattle that roamed at 
will about the village common or to warn presumpi- 
tuous people against encroaching too close upon 
eighteenth century dignity. The great lords of 
Virginia when young Jefferson was a student at 
William and Mary were the Braxtons, Lees, 
Randolphs and Carters, all devoted to the good 
English ways of Walpole's day, fox-hunters, deep 
drinkers, ceremonious and formal gentlemen who 
loved office and office-holding like the Duke of 
Newcastle, their exemplar. To be a member of 
the council gave a Virginian the relative rank 
and standing of a "noble lord" in England and 
the great families strove, intrigued and bribed 
to secure the coveted position. An important 
cause of Richard Henry Lee's entering upon the 
revolutionary career was his failure to receive 
this honor, though one of his brothers was in the 
council. William Beverly of Essex offered £200 


for the office of Secretary to the council for which 
John Carter had paid 1500 guineas in hard cash. 
Plantation masters strove for new plantations and 
bought negroes and patented new lands and 
lavishly entertained the governors both in their 
Williamsburg houses and on their country estates 
in order that they and their descendants might be 
rated as "first families." The greatest honor 
open to a Virginian was membership in the coun- 
cil; Washington himself recognized this and 
strove manfully to attain it. While too much 
stress must not be put upon social life and mere 
honors, it is true that the love of these distinctions 
and the desire to lead in Colonial Virginia were 
mainsprings of the law of entails and negro 
slavery — privilege then, as now, was the higH 
road to social eminence. 

The son of Peter Jefferson from the backwoods 
was also the son of a Randolph and despite the 
boy's uncouth looks and awkward ways he was 
welcomed to the homes of the great, where no 
doubt his real abilities found expression. He 
"played the fiddle,'' danced and could turn a deft 
hand at cards ; he "fell in love" with Judy Bur- 


well or "Sukey" Potter which was no drawback 
to a young man of parts, but he had no notion of 
marrying — young Jefferson was too well-balanced, 
too discreet to make a premature alliance, even 
with the daughter of so great a house as that of 
the Burwells of the Pamunky valley in Hanover. 
He was at home at the gay and rollicksome house 
of Governor Botetourt v^^hom the burgesses loved 
well enough to honor with the name of one of 
the great back-country counties whose limits em- 
braced all Kentucky. But young Jefferson en- 
joyed most perhaps the free fun of a holiday visit 
to Hanover where he saw the true burgess stock 
— the Lyons, Symes, Winstons and even Patrick 
Henry, then a sort of renegade son of a poor 
country gentleman. 

The orphan boy from Albemarle was more, 
however, than a mere pleasure seeker — he stood at 
"the top of his classes" and enjoyed in conse- 
quence the companionship of some of his teachers, 
especially that of Professor Small the mathema- 
tician and naturalist whom Jefferson pronounced 
then and afterward the foremost scientist of 
America. From 1760 to 1767 the young man 


remained a student at William and Mary and in 
the latter year, having gained both the academic 
honors of graduation and his license to practise 
law, he returned to Albemarle to take up the seri- 
ous business of life — serious indeed as it proved 
to be. He was like many other young Virginians 
of the time — John Taylor and James Madison, 
his juniors to be sure, — a real scholar. Latin, 
Greek and French he knew well enough to retain 
and enjoy all his Hfe; in law, history and juris- 
prudence he was quite as well versed as the best 
men of the country ; and in manners he had drunk 
from the Chesterfield fountain from which Bot- 
etourt and his set so frequently drew, and which 
was to serve the future party leader and president 
to such good purpose. But while he saw all sides 
of life as lived at Williamsburg and learned from 
all, he was not a part of that gay, social and friv- 
olous group which viewed "all the world as a 
stage and all men as mere actors upon it" ; he was 
at heart a western man with eastern polish, with, 
a touch, too, of the sentimentalism which, some- 
how, reached him from the then great capital of 
thought and philosophy — Paris, but without the 


least stain of the immorality which, in the forms 
of license and drunkenness, was so common in 
the ''best society" of the Old Dominion. It was 
indeed a very good education which Jefferson 
received at the little provincial college and at the 
cost of less than two pounds, Virginia currency, 
a month! 

When Jefferson "hung out his shingle" in 
Albemarle he was a little more than twenty-four 
years old. His practice became immediately lucra- 
tive, averaging £3000 a year until the great work 
of the Revolution called him to other tasks. His 
friend, Henry, was at that time winning a similar 
income in Hanover. It is rather a suggestive 
commentary on the character of Virginia life 
just before the Revolution to find two young men 
like these both rather out of the main current of 
colonial activity "making fortunes" at the law. 
Wythe and Pendleton were the great lawyers who 
received twice as much from their clients; and 
one must remember five thousand a year in Vir- 
ginia in 1772 was the equivalent of twenty 
thousand of our money. But Virginia was a 
great country at that time and there was much 


"lawing" about entails and "negro property" and 
land titles. The hill counties of Louisa and 
Amherst and Pittsylvania were teeming with 
a restless population and most gentlemen of the 
older lowland counties had patents to great tracts 
of land in Watauga, Kentucky or Augusta, names 
which in Jefferson's day suggested the great areas 
which we know respectively as Tennessee, Ken- 
tucky and West Virginia, and the lawyers had 
much to do to "keep things straight" or perhaps 
to tangle matters so that another generation of 
lawyers would be needed to clear them up. 

Five years after Jefferson left William and 
Mary and when his estate had increased from 
1900 acres of land to 5000 and his negroes from 
thirty to fifty in number, he married Mrs. Skelton, 1 
widow of a prominent lowlander and daughter of 
a wealthy planter and lawyer of James City 
county. The dowry of the wife was equal to the 
husband's entire estate and the Virginian of that 
day may have looked upon the young man from 
the upper Rivanna as a "captain of industry," 
dangerous almost to the security of the state. 
From law $3000 a year and from the plantation 


$2000, not to speak of the increase of the negroes ! 
And then to marry a wife whose property was 
quite as great as his. An income of $9000 or 
$10,000 a year, or $25,000 of our money. Jefferson 
was in fact an important man in Virginia when he 
began his beautiful house on Monticello at the out- 
break of the Revokition. While Jefferson was an, 
eminent lawyer in 1774 and his income from his 
profession was steadily increasing, he was not a 
real lawyer; he did not love the law nor even 
respect it as a calling. His real vocation was that 
of a farmer, relatively small as was the income 
from that source His deliberate opinion was: 
"Those who labor in the earth are the chosen peo- 
ple of God, if ever he had a chosen people; whose 
breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for sub- 
stantial and genuine virtue." And if Jefiferson 
was disqualified for law as a calling he was 
still less fitted for politics — the one thing which 
the world associates with his name. 


But men's lives are not their own, "rough hew 
them as they may." Jefferson was not to be 


merely an Albemarle planter and master, ship- 
ping his tobacco and corn down the Rivanna each 
autumn and receiving from his Richmond factor 
his annual draft on some stable English or 
northern bank. This young man already pre- 
eminent for his wealth, devoted to his farm and 
his plain farmer neighbors, was just the man to 
send down to Williamsburg in 1773 to help the 
burgesses properly resist the encroachments of 
the mother country upon the interests of the col- 
onies. Already Jefferson had seen a little of 
public life ; he had been sent on the same mission 
to the capital in 1769 but the legislature was 
dismissed by his quondam friend, the Governor, 
in such short order that the young member from 
Albemarle hardly had time to draft a set of reso- 
lutions, though he had joined the recalcitrant 
members in the Raleigh tavern and there signed 
the famous non-importation agreement which was 
to give the British ministry no end of trouble. 

But in 1773 the mature Jefferson was in Will- 
iamsburg ; then his great career began and he was 
never again to be either lawyer or farmer but 
statesman. In order to get into the drift of things 


in Virginia at the outbreak of the Revolution it is 
necessary to review briefly the work of Patrick 
Henry. That then famous man had begun his 
career in Hanover by embracing the cause of the 
Presbyterian preachers and missionaries who 
were dealing the established church and ministry 
such sturdy blows that many wise heads were 
wondering what to do with the arrant dissenters. 
A little later another pest was added : the Baptists, 
singing, praying and weeping, invaded conserva- 
tive, respectable "Tidewater" and to these were 
added the Methodists in 1772 who threatened to 
capture all the southside counties/ Rousing 
themselves to the danger of their situation the 
clergy and the vestries of the Establishment under- 
took now to defend themselves. The dissenting 
preachers were declared to be disturbers of the 
peace and thrust into noisome prisons in a dozen 
counties. But the people flocked to the prison 
doors to hear the "good tidings." A revolution 
was already on and there was no stopping it. 
What Henry had done was first to arouse the 

* "Southside" in Virginia refers to the large strip of 
country south of the James river and east of the Blue 
Ridge mountains. 


anger of the people against the established church 
and then to turn the tide of discontent and re- 
sentment from the old church toward the cumber- 
some reactionary system of government which the 
English ministry had long toyed with in America. 
Henry was also a "populist." 

When he first aspired to a seat in the House 
of Burgesses, his aristocratic neighbors in Han- 
over swore that such a man should never disgrace 
their old county, that he could never be elected 
from Hanover. Henry, who was already a 
western man in spirit moved to Louisa, the back- 
woods county just west of Hanover where young 
Jefferson had but recently learned his Greek and 
Latin forms. Henry had worn buckskin breeches 
as a hunter ; he now put them on as a politician. 
He knew the language of the backwoods already ; 
he now made it his own and never afterward 
spoke correctly the vernacular of the privileged, 
of the Hanover gentry who preferred his exile to 
the disgrace of his elevation in their community : 
Henry became a burgess from the western 
county and a leader of the whole up-country, 
the "Q'o'hees," against the compact "Tidewater," 


the "Tuckahoes." It was the West against the 
East, the dissenter in rehgion against the estab- 
lished and formal church. 

What followed the advent of Henry in Virginia 
politics was the mobilization of the middle classes 
in the whole colony as well as the sturdy back- 
woodsmen. There were thirty-five counties on 
the lower reaches of the Virginia rivers, bays and 
inlets and twenty-nine among the hills and moun- 
tains. But not all the thirty-five were in the 
hands of the plantation lords, who never made 
up a twentieth of the Virginia people, though a 
majority of all the counties were probably on the 
side of the King and Church in 1765 ; and it had 
not been difficult for John Robinson, the Speaker 
of the House, to control legislation in the interest 
of the East and of the old order and to suppress 
most popular movements from the West. But the 
hold of the East upon the community was broken 
by an alliance which Henry made with Richard 
Henry Lee who represented a discontented ele- 
ment of the old order. Richard Henry Lee was 
very able and very ambitious. He had been 
disappointed in his campaign of 1762 for a place 


in the council and again for the appointment as 
stamp collector in 1764; moreover Washington 
of the Northern Neck had been preferred in 1755 
as the leader of the Virginia forces in the Brad- 
dock campaign while Lee, a representative of a 
greater house, had been openly snubbed by Govern- 
or Dinwiddie and General Braddock. Lee had 
not been in a good humor these ten years past. 
In 1763 he began an investigation into the con- 
duct of Speaker Robinson who was at the same 
time Treasurer of the colony. The investigation 
dragged on two or three years. Henry supported 
Lee; the up-country was married to the insur- 
gent element of the East. The result was that 
Robinson was shown to have been a lender of the 
public funds, to the extent of £103,000 procla;- 
mation money, without security. Not only so ; the 
money had been loaned to needy politicians who 
were members of the burgesses and who had 
always "stood by" the machine. Robinson had 
long been dictator in the House and he, not the 
"free burgesses," had made the laws. Up-coun- 
try men now saw why it had been impossible 
to get new counties created in their region, why 


the East had been so indifferent to protecting 
the western country against the Indians ; and the 
middle class population who composed the major- 
ity even in the Tidewater counties sympathized 
with the West, and, now that their old machine 
was shown to have been honeycombed with cor- 
ruption, they joined the standards of Henry and 
Lee. The Speaker was manfully supported by the 
"people of quality," the Braxtons and Corbins 
and even by Pendleton, a fair-minded man but 
always a stickler for the forms of law. Rob- 
inson died under a cloud and his partisans did 
not rally again until the close of the Revolution. 
His property was seized in part by the Colony, 
but the bulk of the great embezzlement was never 

When Jefferson was a college boy he was in 
sympathy with the new West and was a friend of 
Henry though a younger man by ten years. The 
party which Henry and Lee had created and 
which was still in power when the great quarrel 
with England came to a crisis was composed 
of the people of the twenty-one counties of Vir- 
ginia which covered the area now known as the 


Piedmont and extended to the Redstone settle- 
ments on the Monongahela and the Ohio in the 
northwest and to the Watauga settlements in the 
southwest. Small farmers along the upper rivers, 
tobacco growers from the ridges between, hunters 
and trappers from the slopes of the Alleghanies 
and the hitherto inert and unorganized mass 
of small proprietors and slave-owners from the 
old counties, made up the rank and file of the 
party — a party with which the great majority 
of the people sympathized and acted for ten years 
after 1769. The leaders were first of all Henry, 
then Richard Henry Lee and George Mason, both 
aristocrats but patriots at the same time. Wash- 
ington, notwithstanding his relations with Lee, 
gradually came over, though many of his friends 
had been, and some still remained, connected with 
the men who had formerly ruled Virginia. 
Between 1769 and 1779 Henry and Lee with 
their powerful following ruled the burgesses or 
the legislature as completely as had Robinson 
and his group. 

Jefferson had grown up in this party; he was 
close to Henry ; his county and neighboring coun- 


ties worshiped the great orator who had made 
Virginia famous for eloquence; and his younger 
friends Dabney Carr and ''Ji^^^i^" Madison 
were of the same mind. As a Heutenant of 
Henry the young scholar from Albemarle entered 
poHtics in 1774 and he was a follower of no 
mean sort, a student, a keen lawyer, a good 
writer and popular with the common people. 
Many long years the minority had struggled 
for a hearing; the western counties had grad- 
ually grown to be the most populous; they 
had filled up with Scotch-Irish from Penn- 
sylvania and Germans from the Palatinate most 
of whom were serious minded men who built 
log churches on the frontier, established schools, 
like Liberty Academy, in the wilderness, and sent 
to Princeton for their preachers and teachers. 
They believed in God as creator of the universe, 
a future state of rewards and punishments and 
the mystery of the Trinity, and if they got a 
chance, like the Puritans of New England, they 
would put these ideas into their organic law,^ 

* Witness the first constitution of Tennessee, also 
that of North Carolina. 


or compel their opponents to accept their creed. 
Their eastern allies were largely Baptists who 
knew what persecution for conscience sake was 
and who, if their voice could be heard, would 
make religious freedom a part of the constitution. 
Verily these were not the men who had made 
Virginia in the past; they were the men, though, 
who were to make the Virginia of 1800. 

Still the people who looked to Princeton as a 
source of all religious orthodoxy and found their 
cultural ideas in the neighborhood of Philadelphia 
could never have made Virginia great. Neither 
could the numerous but illiterate Baptists with 
their simple-minded pastors have erected the great 
social fabric which the world came to know as 
Virginia. It required leadership, knowledge of 
the world, philosophy ; and these elements Jeffer- 
son and his group, Madison, John Taylor and 
Spencer Roane, all trained in the best schools of 
the time, students and philosophers by nature, sup- 
plied. These younger men, like Henry, only 
infinitely better grounded in the learning of the 
world, were admirers of the insurgent Whigs of 
England, the fallen Earl of Chatham, the great 


orator Burke and his rival the briUiant Fox. 
The ideals of the best elements of the Whig party 
in England were grafted upon the rough honesty 
and unyielding purpose of the Virginia up-coun- 
try. Such was the party which held the upper 
hand in Virginia when Massachusetts cried aloud 
for help in 1774 and it need not be added the cry 
fell not upon deaf ears. The young party was 
cousin-german to New England. Princeton and 
Yale were close akin and the religious ideals of 
Massachusetts were only another brand of the 
stern Calvinism which dominated the rank and 
file of Virginia. 

But Jefferson was no Calvinist, even if Henry 
was; and Madison was a member of the estab- 
lished church. However, both Jefferson and 
Madison believed in the new doctrine of popular 
rule. What the majority wished was law to 
them; they believed in the people as New Eng- 
landers did not. And the first article of Henry's 
creed was majority rule — a majority of all the 
people who had a share in the commonwealth. 
Recent history in Virginia compelled this and 
Whig teaching in England tended the same way. 


It is not difficult then to see how the great 
principle of Jefferson's life — absolute faith in 
democracy — came to him. He was the product 
of the first West in American history; he grew 
up with men who ruled their country well, who 
fought the Indians valiantly, who made of a vast 
wilderness a smiling garden and most of whose 
ills were due to the former absence of self govern- 
ment in the larger affairs of Virginia life. 
Jefferson loved his backwoods neighbors and he in 
turn was loved by them. There was perfect sym- 
pathy. "The man who follows the daily round 
of agriculture is God's noblest handiwork." 

The events of 1774 and 1775 made the Virginia 
leaders world figures and Jefferson, not Henry, 
was soon to become the author of the Declaration 
of Independence, the champion before mankind 
of the oppressed. Henry essayed the national 
role in 1774; but he was clearly the man to lead 
the party at home, not in the greater arena. Lee 
was in the congress of 1776 and as the oldest 
and most aristocratic member of the delegation, 
he introduced the resolution for independence 
and logically he should have headed the committee 


which drafted the famous Declaration. But the old 
feud with the Washingtons was not yet quieted. 
It would have been a great risk to allow Lee too 
much prominence and the plan to substitute Jef- 
ferson was proposed and Lee found it necessary 
to hasten off to Virginia to "mend his political 
fences." Jefferson, Henry and Washington were 
on good terms. .Washington's friends and, what 
was more important, the large group of old fami- 
lies still smarting under the chastisement which 
Lee had given them in 1765-66 were spared the 
humiliation of seeing the renegade Lee a national 
hero. Devious are the ways of high politics. 
Notwithstanding the intrigue and wire-pulling 
which was employed to retire Lee at that time, 
Jefferson was entirely worthy of the honor which 
came to him — he was indeed the man of all Vir- 
ginians to become the spokesman of America; 
the language of the Declaration was the language 
^ of dissent and complaint which had been heard in 
Virginia for a quarter of a century, and Jefferson 
could well lead a fight against the same kind of 
privilege and arbitrary power as applied to all 
America which he and his neighbors had over- 


thrown in Virginia. The cause of the West in 
Virginia was the cause of America before the 

But the forces which Henry and Lee had over- 
thrown were not to be put aside at a single brush 
of the political besom. Henry was not the mas- 
ter in Virginia, though the most powerful single 
individual. Even with his co-workers, Mason and 
Lee, he still fell short of the power which certain 
present-day "bosses" exercise, as was clearly 
shown in 1775 when, raising his regiment of 
Hanover and Louisa militia, he seized the powder 
which Governor Dunmore was about to employ 
against the revolutionists. All eyes were upon 
the zealous self-made colonel and so popular was 
the up-country leader that it was impossible to pre- 
vent the convention then in session from making 
him general of the Virginia troops. That Henry 
was a good military chieftain may well be 
doubted; but his old time enemies were deter- 
mined he should have no chance to prove this 
point. Henry's brother-in-law, William Campbell, 
with no military training except what the back- 
woods afforded, won the battle of Kings Moun- 


tain in 1780 and his friend, George Rogers Clark, 
manifested all the qualities of a good general 
in his famous campaign in the Northwest in 
1779. When Henry was placed in command by 
the convention of the new state a committee 
of safety was appointed by the same delegates 
of the people, a majority of whom were Henry's 
enemies and some of whom had been connected 
with the Robinson scandal ; Edmund Pendleton 
was its chairman. The committee of safety had 
general oversight of the defenses of Virginia 
in the summer and autumn of 1775 when Sir 
Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker planned 
and sought to execute the first great scheme for 
the conquest of the South. Things were so man- 
aged by Pendleton and his committee that ardent 
and popular Henry never heard a gunshot, 
while a subordinate, Colonel Woodford, was put 
into practical command of the troops which 
were nominally subject only to Henry's orders! 
Woodford won the first victory in the South at 
Great Bridge near Norfolk on December 9, 1775, 
while Henry was compelled to lie idle at Will- 
iamsburg. There was not to be any "General 


Henry" in Virginia though "Mr. Henry" might 
still count for much. 

This was the first setback to Henry's forward 
and vigorous program; Lee's humiliation came a 
little later. The men, like Edmund Pendleton, 
who managed both schemes, thoroughly enjoyed 
their brief success. It began to look as if the 
'^interests" of the old days would govern revolu- 
tionary Virginia. The reply of the up-country 
party to this treatment of their hero was his elec- 
tion by the next convention to the governorship 
of the state, to the position just vacated by His 
Majesty's royal representative. Lord Dunmore — 
a very high honor and next to Washington's the 
most important position in America in 1776. 
The reactionaries had played their game too well. 

But the great work of 1776 in Virginia was the 
framing of the fundamental law of the new state 
— the constitution which was to be the model 
for the next seventy-five years in most southern 
and western communities, faulty as it turned out 
to be in the important matter of representation. 
Henry and Lee and Mason were agreed that all 
the old bulwarks of the English commons should 


be re-erected in Virginia — and among them the 
noble Bill of Rights was created, and was made 
law by the convention, Henry being responsible 
for the clauses bearing upon religious liberty and 
Mason for the older ideas of freedom of speech, 
press and the right of revolution. The constitu- 
tion of Virginia of 1776 was wonderfully like the 
program of the English revolution of 1688 and 
many passages of the Bill of Rights were copied 
verbatim from Locke's Essay on Government. 
There was nothing original in all the talk about 
"trial by jury," the *Vight of revolution" and of 
"redress of grievances." The older leaders like 
Pendleton and the reactionaries from the coast 
counties could listen to agitation of that sort as 
well as any. What aroused the ire of the benefi- 
ciaries of the system of entail and primogeniture, 
of slavery and great estates, was the demand for 
proportional representation on the part of the 
up-country. For a hundred years the small group 
of eastern planters had denied fair representation 
to the people on the border, the people who fought 
the Indians, cleared the lands and made Virginia 
prosperous. In 1776 they had a majority of the 


voters, of the actual landowners; their counties 
were large, however, and entitled only to the same 
number of delegates to the Assembly as the small 
Tidewater counties. They had never been able 
to bring the East to an agreement about the size 
of the county. What they wanted was a greater 
vote in the law-making body — a vote commen- 
surate with their numerical and fighting strength ; 
but in 1776 they had only twenty-nine counties 
as against the thirty-five of the East and whenever 
a new western county was created a new eastern 
must also be created regardless of the meager 
population of the latter. 

Jefferson, not in the convention, but a member 
of the congress at Philadelphia and just now 
writing the famous Declaration, was one of the 
leaders in Virginia who held "radical" views on 
the subjects of suffrage and representation. He 
believed in manhood suffrage and proportional 
representation of all the voters and he took the risk 
of sending to Williamsburg a draft of a constitu- 
tion embodying his views.^ This proposed con- 

^ Works of Thomas Jefferson, (Ford's Fed. Ed.) II, 


stitution would have destroyed forever the power 
of the privileged planters. Representation in the 
House was to be in proportion to population and 
the representatives were to elect the members of 
the Senate. The House was also to elect the Gov- 
ernor. With the Executive and the Senate depend- 
ent upon representatives elected annually by the 
people, and with the inequalities of the old system 
of county representation "done away" there would 
have been little chance for the old regime ever 
again to control affairs in Virginia — slavery, en- 
tails and primogeniture would all have gone to- 
gether in a few short years and none foresaw this 
more clearly than Jefferson, the great slave-master. 
Not even Henry could stand for so much 
democracy as this; Lee could not be expected to 
admire the man who was about to harvest the 
fame which was properly his; and Mason was 
content to urge his English ideas of trial by jury, 
right of revolution and habeas corpus. The old 
party, the "Tuckahoes" of 1766, rallied their 
whole strength against any such plan as this which 
to them would have meant the utter ruin of all 
"vested interests," the subjugation of "gentlemen 


of family" to the "ruffians of the West." Jeffer- 
son's democratic ideas received scant courtesy 
from even a revolutionary convention which was 
itself indirectly an up-country product. The out- 
come was a constitution which left the power of 
the new state in the hands of the East and the 
opponents of all that Henry and Jefferson stood 
for; there was some juggling of representation, a 
district system which appeared to make substan- 
tial concession to the just demands of the West; 
but when, a year or two later, the revolutionary 
ardor was somewhat abated, it was found that 
the new system simply perpetuated the old — the 
East in the name of "property" had the majority 
of delegates in both houses and since the executive 
was chosen by the legislature in joint session the 
governor was invariably friendly to the East. 

There was much talk of recalling Jefferson from 
his place in Philadelphia^ and in fact the vote he 
received was so small that he, the leader of the 
Virginia delegation, resigned rather than come 
in "next to the lag." He had not yet reaped the 
harvest of fame which was to come from his 

* Works of Thomas Jefferson, II, 198. 


authorship of the Declaration and his enemies 
had thus chosen their only chance to humiliate 

The time had come for the quiet planter of 
Albemarle to make his own program and to fight 
for it while the populous West was at his back 
and when his fame was still on the increase. He 
prepared himself and in the summer of 1776 
he stood for election to the House of Representa- 
tives in Albemarle. It was now unnecessary for 
him to stand all day at the polls and bow politely 
to each man who voted for him and to regale all 
who were thirsty with copious draughts from his 
"huge bowl of punch." There was no opposition 
in Albemarle and a half dozen other counties in 
the up-country would gladly have honored him 
with their votes. 


Once in the legislature he began quietly his 
policy of tearing up the "interests" root and 
branch. Only a half year before the conserva- 
tives and the reactionaries had combined to 
humiliate him; it would have been more than 
human in him not to enjoy seeing his opponents 


writhe and wriggle as he marshalled the necessary 
majorities for his plan, first to do away with 
entails, second to make unlawful the long practice 
of primogeniture, or the bestowal upon the oldest 
son of the landed estates of deceased property 
owners ; the hoary shelter of the privileged order 
in Virginia, the established church, was next 
attacked and partially overthrown ; the fourth item 
on his list of reforms, brought down from the 
up-country, was the gradual abolition of slavery — 
having succeeded in most of what he had pre- 
sented, he hoped to carry this too and by the votes 
of slaveholders like himself! But to bring the 
great lowland planters to "split" on this question, 
as they had done on the others, and to allow the 
very basis of their fabric to be undermined was 
too much. Slavery remained to curse America 
for a hundred years yet. Finally he proposed a 
system of public free schools — still another item 
in the western economy — for Virginia, which was 
to be headed by William and Mary College as 
a state university. In this he scarcely hoped to 
succeed and of course he failed. 

One naturally inquires how such a thorough- 


going reform could be accomplished or set in 
motion at a single session of the legislature. 
Virginia was still filled with the enthusiastic 
idealism which swept most of the people off their 
feet, an idealism which seized upon practical and 
conservative men Hke Washington as well as 
upon "dreamers" of the type of Jefferson. It 
was a time not unlike the famous Fifth of 
August, 1789, in France, which brought still 
greater reforms for that country. Henry had 
been preparing the way for ten years; the up- 
country leaders and the low-country dissenters 
had voted and prayed for the same kind of thing 
since the close of the "old French" war; and the 
great glittering Declaration, now resounding 
around the world, had put on the finishing stroke. 
It was the only time such work could be done and 
Jefferson was the one man to lead. Rare indeed 
have been the parallels to these reforms in the 
history of the world. 

Short sighted indeed was the policy of humil- 
iating the radical author of a real constitution in 
1776, and perhaps Edmund Pendleton and Wilson 
C. Nicholas meditated remorsefully on their fool- 


ish work of putting this young man out of 
congress only to have him come down from the 
hills to the Assembly and demolish them — with 
his sledge hammer blows ! 

There were now two stars in the Virginia 
firmament and both were representatives of the 
up-country. Could Governor Henry and the 
author of the Declaration of Independence con- 
tinue to live peaceably in Virginia and lead the 
same party? Possibly, but not likely. 

Already the great governor and popular tribune 
was embarrassed and two years later when Jef- 
ferson became governor the friends of the older 
man were careful to put stumbling blocks in the 
way of the popular young executive and from 
this time to the end of their lives the two 
were not friends. Jefferson thought Henry an un- 
learned and merely rhetorical orator while Henry 
regarded Jefferson as a dangerous innovator and 
"infidel". But one or the other must rule the 
party and Henry was undoubtedly the beiter 
man for that. 

From the introduction of Jefferson's radical 
program in 1776 Henry was drawn somewhat 


from the strong position of former years. He did 
nothing to aid Jefferson's school system; though 
he never defended slavery, he was unwilling to 
risk his popularity in an effort to destroy it ; and 
he actually opposed Jefferson's scheme of dises- 
tablishing the Church, although he had won his 
fame in fighting the Church. It was clear to wiser 
heads that Henry and Jefferson did not agree 
and that of the two the latter was the real 
reformer. Had these two men been able to work 
together in the momentous revolutionary epoch 
how different might have been the course of 
American history! ^ 

Henry now settled in the West and for a time 
he contemplated emigrating to Kentucky — ^Jef- 
ferson who succeeded to the office of governor 
in 1779 proved half-a-failure as an administrator 
and Henry's friends were not above demanding 
an investigation which it was expected would ruin 
him as a public man. The publicity which was 
heaped upon the failure of Jefferson to protect 
Virginia from invasion in 1781 almost destroyed 
the popularity of the retiring governor. In 1783 
he was put "out in the cold," i. e. he was sent 


to the already discredited congress of the Con'- 
federation. This had been the scene of his great- 
est success and he was not averse to taking up 
with his young and devoted friend, Madison, 
the cause of the nascent nation. He accepted 
the call which he knew was intended as a sort 
of balm to his wounded feelings — an easy "let- 
down^' for a man who had been a victim of the 
circumstances of the late Revolution. Little did 
he or his enemies think that he would ever again 
be able to strike such heavy blows as he had 
struck in 1776 and 1777. 

In congress, however, he fought so well the 
cause of Virginia in her struggle with the north- 
ern states to retain her vast western possessions 
that even Henry warmed toward him again. Jef- 
ferson's learning, his talent at arranging differ- 
ences, of appearing to yield without really yield- 
ing, were indispensable to Virginia at this stage of 
her history. It was Jefferson whose practical turn 
of mind invented our system of coinage units and 
saved us from the cumbersome method of the Eng- 
lish or of the humorous scheme proposed by Rob- 
ert Morris. He worked out with Madison the final 


plan upon which Virginia ceded her western lands 
to congress and he was the one who first and last 
insisted that slavery should never be permitted 
to gain a foothold north of the Ohio. Notable 
indeed were the services of the banished politi- 
cian. And finally when the peace came and the 
treaties were all ratified, congress asked Jefferson 
to go to France to succeed there the famous 
Franklin who was returning home to die. 

However, Henry was again the great man in 
the state; he absolutely ruled the legislature; 
and he was made governor a second time in 1784. 
Mason and Lee came again to the front and this 
time as before Henry made a popular executive. 
He fought now for a protective tariff against 
"insidious English commerce" and on behalf of 
the "infant industries" which he hoped to see 
spring up in the new empire. A great figure 
was Henry now as ever — jealous of Virginia's 
fame, popular in manner and as great an orator 
as when he began his career of revolution twenty 
years before. No man could stand in the Old 
Dominion without his actual or supposed friend- 
ship. Washington who never loved Henry made 


overtures to him on behalf of his great plan for 
a national convention; Madison who had never 
been a close follower sought his support and 
acknowledged his supremacy. Jefferson could 
not well sacrifice his self-respect and forget or 
forgive the events of 1781 ; but he knew who 
it was that had succeeded to twice the power in 
Virginia which George III had surrendered. 
There has seldom been a more perfect political 
machine in an American state than that which 
Henry, during his second term as governor, had 
at his beck and call. 

It is not surprising then that Jefferson accepted 
from congress in 1784 the mission to France — 
a post of great honor, from the national point 
of view, but one which the really big men of 
Virginia, Henry, Mason and perhaps even Lee, 
would have declined. Thus Jefferson was to get 
the very training which he needed and in the 
service of the nation. Indeed his great work had 
been and was to continue in the cause of the 
country, not of Virginia. 

Some have said that Jefferson's later attitude 
toward the federal government was due to his 


absence from the country during the critical 
period of 1784- 1789. There may be reason in 
this but I am disposed to think that his later views 
were only an outgrowth of his earlier experience, 
a product as well of the highly complicated 
political situation of Virginia at the time. 

Of the long term in France, of his unique 
record as a minister, or of his influence in the 
early stages of the "great" Revolution, there is 
no need to speak. Jefferson returned to America 
about the time the rejuvenated federal govern- 
ment with Washington at its head went into 

During Jefferson's absence in Europe Virginia 
grew in wealth and power as did no other Amer- 
ican commonwealth. Her trade with Europe 
was flourishing, her teeming population had spread 
far into the west, Kentucky was a new state of 
itself but loyal to the Old Dominion, the Redstone 
settlements counted near a hundred thousand 
souls, and the Watauga country, the quondam 
state of Franklin, was half a child of Virginia. 
And this great domain of lowland, rugged moun- 
tain and bounding prairie — more than g.. hundred 


thousand square miles — was still the land of Pat- 
rick Henry whom the people credited with having 
brought on the struggle for freedom and with 
having done most after the war was over for the 
rights of the common men. He had compelled 
the nationalists to amend their constitution to suit 
the popular demand, he had saved to the West 
the free navigation of the Mississippi. Henry 
became now an intense particularist and he 
turned his great party, mainly up-country and 
western men, overwhelmingly against the growing 
necessity for a real national power. The west- 
erners and up-country men had formerly been 
nationalists in tendency, but the threatened loss 
of the navigation of the Mississippi and the 
weakness of congress had turned them to Vir- 
ginia as the only power to protect their rights if 
it came to actual warfare. 

The years 1784 to 1788 brought a revolution in 
Virginia public sentiment : the real revolutionists, 
the men who had fought the battles of the war 
just ended, were now particularists, zealous for a 
growing and mighty Virginia; while the former 
conservatives who had always opposed the new 


counties, who had fought Henry in 1775 and Jef- 
ferson in 1776, were now under the leadership of 
Washington and Jefferson's young friend, Madi- 
son, to become the Federahst party. In other 
words the men who had fought the radicals in 
1776 and who ridiculed the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence now became the champions of nationality 
with the idea of defending themselves against 
the democracy of the border. Gentlemen who 
controlled their state as never before, and they 
counties of eastern Virginia, the rotten boroughs 
of that day, had counted their strength and, with 
Washington on their side, believed they could 
win against their foes. And when the great 
fight on the adoption of the federal constitution 
came in 1788 the "property" of the East proved 
victorious. Eastern men who owned slaves now 
controlled their state as never before and they 
were likely to control the new national adminis- 
tration. The federal constitution actually guar- 
anteed them in their ownership of slaves and 
gave them increased representation in congress 
because of their "peculiar property." 

Jefferson came back to Virginia more radical 


as to personal rights than when he went away 
and to him the necessity of breaking down all 
class distinctions was imperative. What position 
would he take in Virginia politics? To join 
Henry and his own former followers would have 
been repudiation of much of his own past work 
and of his closest friend, Madison ; to join Wash- 
ington meant alliance with the men who had 
tried to destroy him and all his program in 1776. 
He was at heart a nationalist, but a leveler. He 
joined Washington and accepted a post in the 
cabinet but tried to escape the alliance with the 
ancient "Tuckahoes." The result was that he, 
with all his address as a compromiser, gained few 
friends among the conservatives and none with 
the Henry party. Madison was close to him, but 
Grayson, Monroe and Richard Henry Lee must 
have doubted either his loyalty to Virginia or his 
honesty as a leader. The "old war horse" from 
Red Hill held him in contempt. 

But Jefferson was not reduced to the necessity 
of making an issue in order to escape the dilemma. 
Hamilton and the extreme conservatives now put 
forward their policy looking toward increasing 


the powers and functions of the federal govern- 
ment beyond even the imphcations of the 
constitution. ^ In 1790 the foreign obligations 
of the former confederacy, amounting to nearly 
$8,000,000, were funded at par. To this no 
objection was made. Next it was proposed to 
issue government bonds to all holders of domestic 
obligations, estimated at $44,414,085, which had 
been bandied about at a fourth or even a tenth 
of their face value and most of which obligations 
had been bought up by speculators who were now 
urging upon congress the adoption of the new 
policy. Finally it was a part of Hamilton's 
scheme to have the national government take 
over $18,000,000 of the state debts contracted 
during the Revolution. Virginia made no oppo- 
sition to the arrangement of the foreign debt; 
but to the assumption at par of the millions of 
claims against the confederation for which the 
holders in 1790 had paid only a small fraction 
of the face value, most leaders of opinion in that 
state made strenuous objection. Madison voiced 
a well-nigh universal feeling when he spoke long 
and ardently against this part of the program 


of his former friend. When, however, the state 
debt proposition came up not only Virginia but 
all the South, except South Carolina, revolted, 
for the southern states, especially Virginia, owed 
very little. It was not difficult for the plainest 
man to see that for the nation to assume a debt 
of $18,000,000, two thirds of which was owed 
by the northern states, and then tax all alike for 
its payment was unjust. 

This was not all. At the last session of the 
First Congress Hamilton succeeded in establish- 
ing a national bank to which Virginians were 
also universally opposed. The whole scheme was 
completed when at the same session in 1791 a 
federal excise tax of twenty-five cents a gallon 
should be laid upon all whiskey manufactured 
in the country. This was a particularly burden- 
some tax to the backwoods men, as they were 
accustomed to distil their grain and then trans- 
port it to eastern markets. And Virginia was 
largely a back-country state. What was espe- 
cially irritating to Virginia members of congress 
during all the debates on these bills was Hamil- 
ton's undisguised purpose to increase the powers 


of the national government at the expense of the 
states. The assumption bill, the bank and the 
excise schemes had, all, this avowed purpose. 
To add to the weight of unpopularity of the new 
government Washington and Hamilton and John 
Adams assumed an importance and established 
a ceremonial which the farmers of Virginia re- 
sented. Henry declared on one occasion that he 
could not accept office under the federal govern- 
ment because he would not be able at his time of 
life to adapt himself to the regal manners of the 
new regime. 

Madison who had always been Hostile to Henry 
and friendly to Hamilton broke with the Federal- 
ists. Jefferson who had been less of a national- 
ist joined his young friend, and the two began 
the organization in 1792 of the party which was 
soon to embrace all the small farmers of the South 
and which eight years later won control of the 
federal power which Hamilton had been so 
industriously augmenting. And from 1792 to 
1796 the leaders of the new party held up to 
ridicule most of the acts of the Washington admin- 
istration and made great capital out of the birth- 


day parties and other innocent social doings of 
the President and his family. 

This, it would seem, would have been the occa- 
sion for Henry to take courage and put himself 
at the head of the party of resistance in Virginia 
and dispute with Jefferson its leadership in the 
country. Nothing of the sort happened. A$ 
soon as Jefferson began his opposition to the 
national government and to appeal to the great 
mass of country people in Virginia, the "old war 
horse" of earlier days began to seek out occasions 
to express his approval of Washington, "the 
great and good man," from whom he had 
demanded an explanation of his course in 1788. 
It was not a long while before the greatest of all 
anti-federalists was known in Philadelphia to 
be a convert ! And forthwith Washington offered 
the former antagonist the highest office at his com- 
mand. The outcome was that Henry became 
the most enthusiastic of Virginia Federalists and 
canvassed for a seat in the legislature at Wash- 
ington's request simply that he might there oppose 
Jefferson and his friends, Madison and John 
Taylor, in their efforts to have the alien and sedi- 


tion laws repealed. Henry had yielded somewhat 
of his principles in 1776 when he supported a 
constitution which sacrificed his followers, the 
small farmers; but he had regained his immense 
popularity in the struggle of 1786- 1788. 

Now he lost his following and the young 
upstart, John Randolph, was listened to at Char- 
lotte Courthouse, in April 1798, as he ridiculed 
the old statesman. * Jefferson won the place which 
his older rival had surrendered and Madison was 
next in succession. Having retired from the 
Washington administration at the beginning of 
1794, Jefferson devoted himself for the next 
six years to building up and consolidating all 
the forces of opposition. Everywhere he was 
regarded as the leader of the radical forces in the 
community. A philosopher who had been counted 
among the famous men of France during his 
residence there, a politician who resigned the 
first position in the cabinet because he was too 
democratic for that environment, a planter and 
farmer whose house was admittedly the hand- 
somest in America and whose income was popu- 
larly estimated at many thousands a year, an 


inventor of new plows, a writer of books and 
most of all the author of the great Declaration of 
Independence which was coming into greater pop- 
ularity in the South every year — such was the man 
now inspiring the Virginia democracy and organ- 
izing the courthouse cliques after the manner 
of the revolutionists in 1776. 

There was an opposition : Washington exerted 
himself to the uttermost in 1798 and 1799; 
Henry was Washington's close second as has 
been noted; John Marshall spent six thousand 
dollars to win a seat in Congress in i798;Jthe 
Bassetts in lower Hanover and New Kent gave 
in their support to the conservative forces which 
were supposed to be fighting for the very existence 
of organized society, and Henry Lee, the father of 
the greatest of all the Lees, went about sowing 
seeds of discord in the hope that the danger- 
ous democrat might be defeated. Smaller men 
fought in smaller ways but none the less bitterly. 
Virginia was rent asunder as never before; the 
hills and the mountains, the people of the great 
counties of the back-country, followed the stand- 
ards erected by their neighbor of Monticello; 


the towns, the smaller counties of the East, all 
the appointees of the federal government, the 
judges of the federal courts, entered the canvass 
against the "mobocrat," the innovator, the author 
of the law which had taken away the right of the 
older sons to the paternal acres. 


Though Jefferson dreaded conflict and shrank 
like a woman from publicity, he continued to lead ; 
he worked out party programs, called councils 
of his lieutenants and contributed of his means 
to the party chest. Everywhere and at all times 
he was the source of inspiration to those who 
gathered about him or who received his long and 
thoughtful letters. Defeated in the campaign of 
1796 for the presidency he accepted the vice- 
presidency with the utmost willingness, "having 
put his hands to the plow.'* And while he presided 
over a senate, two thirds of whose members were 
his political or personal enemies, he never once 
forgot himself, like Calhoun of later years, or 
showed signs of partisanship. It was the author 
of the Declaration of Independence, the former 


foreign minister and secretary of state who pre- 
sided over the Senate which actually threatened 
to impeach him for giving a letter of introduction 
to his friend Logan who was going to France on 
a self-imposed mission of peace in 1798. Yet 
he was the soul of courtesy to Sedgwick of Mas- 
sachusetts and Tracy of Connecticut, his most 
malignant foes; and in December, 1799, when all 
but himself had lost their poise and dignity in 
their anger or joy at the President for proposing 
the famous peace commission to France, he could 
quietly call the Senate to order. Secure in the 
growing affections of the masses of people, he 
could view the rebuffs which were meted out to 
him in Philadelphia by the rabble stirred up by 
his opponents, or endure with the utmost equa- 
nimity the nightly shrieks and cat calls of hostile 
serenaders beneath his windows, knowing full 
well that his day was dawning. Few men have 
been reviled as was Jefferson during the closing 
years of the eighteenth century. In Virginia a 
pious matron of a noted family wished that he 
might never have a son to succeed him, and in 
Massachusetts men prayed daily that the atheist, 


and arch-enemy of all good men and noble causes, 
might be brought to justice for his scandalous 
blasphemy. Never faltering, growing more sim- 
ple in his democratic ways as he grew more 
famous, he kept his course — riding about his 
plantation when in Virginia or meeting his 
friends Madison, Albert Gallatin of Pennsyl- 
vania, Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, at 
unostentatious dinners at the "Indian Queen" 
when at the seat of government. So far did he 
carry his leveling principles that he could not be 
induced to take a place at the head of the table 
where his devoted followers made up the guests, 
but always chose, like the man in the Bible story, 
the least prominent station — even after his election 
to the presidency. 

iWhen the conflict was over, when both Henry 
and Washington had gone to their graves weep- 
ing for their country because it followed Jeffer- 
son, when his former friend Adams turned from 
him as from a leper, having, however, placed in 
the chair of Chief Justice his strongest enemy 
in Virginia, John Marshall, he had the great 
mass of the southern people behind him, the 


majority in Pennsylvania, New York and Ver- 
mont and a strong following in Connecticut 
and Massachusetts. He had drawn a line from 
northeast to southwest, from the town of Ports- 
mouth in New Hampshire to Augusta in Georgia, 
west and north of which almost every man was his 
devoted admirer and east and south of which he 
had many friends and some leaders of the people. 
Jefferson had changed the first sectional line 
separating North from South to one separating 
the older from the newer sections of all the states 
and by his policy and his devotion to popular 
rights this was soon to disappear, leaving only 
isolated groups of opponents like the Essex neigh- 
borhood in Massachusetts or the old river counties 
of the Carolinas. 

What this apostle of democracy had stood for 
in Virginia, the dogma that all men are free and 
equal, equality before the law, popular suffrage, 
equal representation of equal units of population 
in all legislatures, abolition of negro slavery and 
the establishment of religious freedom — the creed 
of the up-country of the South before 1820 — was 
now the national program and Virginia became 


the basis and the background for the federal 
administration in the same way that the up-coun- 
try counties in Virginia had been the basis and 
support of the Revolution in 1776. Jefferson 
had captured Henry's party in Virginia, reju- 
venated it, found allies for it in the Carolina 
up-country, and then made it national. And it 
was this growing section of the South, the popu- 
lous border region, now spread into Tennessee 
and Kentucky and Ohio, Presbyterians, Baptists 
and Methodists, considered in denominational 
terminology, that contributed the ideals which 
made Jefferson's first four years in office unparal- 
leled in American history and which caused his 
policy to prevail even in New England. This 
it seems to the writer is the key to the under- 
standing of the remarkable popularity of the third 
president, notwithstanding the almost complete 
breakdown of his second term in office. 

Strange as it may seem, Jefferson was not at 
one with any great group of his followers: he 
hated war, yet the up-country people were the 
most warlike in the nation; he was liberal in 
religious matters while the Scotch-Irish, Baptist 


and Methodist masses who made up his party 
were devoted to Calvinistic theology or to posi- 
tive acception of the miraculous view of the New 
Testament; he was in all his tastes and activities 
a gentleman and a scholar, they were the cruder, 
the more illiterate great element of the American 
nationality. What kept them together? What 
stirred their enthusiasm for the greatest scholar 
and thinker who has yet occupied the presidential 
chair ? 

Jefferson had a boundless faith in the masses. 
He still adhered to his doctrine that most farmers 
are honest while most other people are dishonest. 
God was to him especially intimate with the 
farmers — "their breasts were still the Almighty's 
chosen repository of truth." Jefferson thought 
all men ought to have the ballot — that was his 
remedy for the ills of his time, though he hastened 
to add that all men should be educated at public 
expense. Jefferson hated England and the back- 
country people had no less antipathy for the 
nation which Patrick Henry had held up to them 
and their fathers as the cause of all America's 
woes, as the insidious foe who still stirred up the 


Indians to deeds of rapine and bloodshed. So 
if Jefferson did not share the rehgious zeal and 
dogmatism of the people who supported him, if 
he viewed Jesus, the Christ, as a plain but very- 
great teacher and philosopher, he had faith in his 
followers; he liked their democratic church and 
ideas of government and their simple every-day 
honesty. Their methods he undertook to apply to 
the federal system. Was it not he who said: 
All men are created free and equal? That was 
their creed in politics as well as in church 
affairs. Whether Jefferson believed this glitter- 
ing doctrine or not, he hated all men who under- 
took to establish the contrary principle. All such 
sought, in his opinion, some undue advantage in 
society, some undue attention and that was con- 
trary to the democracy which he hoped to see 
prevail in America. Thus one sees easily how 
sectarians, religious zealots, political doctrinaires 
and all men who believed in essential human 
freedom, broken, though they were, into hostile 
groups, found in Jefferson their common point of 
union. And the alliance which resulted was a 
party of practical idealists in this country, never 


likely to reappear — a party of peasant farmers led 
by a great peasant planter in a nation ninety-five 
per cent of whom were peasant farmers. No 
wonder the Jefferson party stood intact for more 
than a quarter of a century. 

Now when this ideal back-country man became 
president he continued the same democratic man- 
ner of life which had prevailed in Albemarle 
county and all the other counties in the nation. 
The people rejoiced to hear that "levees had been 
done away," that the President admitted all who 
came to see him on equal terms ; they were glad to 
know there were no more state carriages with out- 
riders and footmen and that the President rode 
about the little backwoods capital on the Potomac 
in quite as simple a manner as any farmer who 
carried a bag of corn to mill. 

When Jefferson was president he had for his 
cabinet members his friend and neighbor Madi- 
son — a farmer like himself — another personal 
friend Albert Gallatin, an able leader of the back- 
woods people of Pennsylvania, who proved in a 
practical way quite as good a Secretary of Treas- 
ury as Hamilton himself had been. Nathaniel 


Macon, a typical southern farmer, who lived 
miles away from any public highway, and whose 
theory in life was, that, when his neighbors came 
near enough for him to hear their dogs bark, 
he would go further west, received Jefferson's 
support and was elected Speaker of the House. 
The only great aristocrat in the party, Charles 
Pinckney, with an annual income of half a hun- 
dred thousand, was appropriately made a foreign 
minister. The ideas of the small farmers, not 
those of the great planters or merchant princes, 
dominated the whole administration and strangely 
enough the "large affairs" of the country seem 
not to have suffered. There was no proscrip- 
tion of the rival party. Federalists held all the 
offices and Federalists made no secret of their 
hatred for the President. They thought them- 
selves the repository of ability and learning and' 
respectability; and all their papers and organs 
daily published diatribes against the "fools 
and knaves" who had come to power. But Jef- 
ferson was a patient man. He did not remove 
a baker's dozen of his opponents. Death and 
resignation came only slowly to his assistance, 


and some of his followers were office-hungry. 

Washington had set the example of appointing 
only Federalists to office. Every member of the 
federal courts was both a Federalist and a per- 
sonal friend of the first president; the district 
judges, attorneys and marshals were partisans, 
some of them of the most virulent character. 
And after retiring from the presidency, Wash- 
ington insisted that members of the other party 
should not be appointed even to the positions 
in the army which he was organizing to fight 
F'rance in 1798. Adams had not departed from 
this rule. But Jefferson said we are all Repub- 
licans, all Federalists, and his purpose was to 
unite all moderate men upon the single and simple 
principle of democracy. And he was almost \ 

The two great measures of Jefferson's eight | 
years in office were the purchase of Louisiana | 
and the Embargo. Many people were surprised I 
that the peacemaker and idealist should have \ 
threatened war with France, for whom he was * 
supposed peculiarly to stand in national politics, 
if he were not given control of the mouth of the ^/ 



Mississippi. But any one who studied carefully 
the make-up of the Jefferson party must have 
seen that it was the free navigation of the Missis- 
sippi which the great body of his followers 
demanded. Three great states, Kentucky, Ten- 
nessee and Ohio had been built up by these very 
followers and the one condition of their economic 
existence was the free navigation of the great 
river. The interior counties of all the states from 
New York to Georgia were all favorable to the 
demands of the people on the "western waters." 
Only the commercial interests of the East were 
indifferent to the matter. Hence it was a foregone 
conclusion that Jefferson, the "pacifist," should 
take the stand he did in 1802 and write to the 
American minister in Paris, that "from the day 
France takes possession of New Orleans she makes 
us an enemy, and we must marry ourselves to the 
British fleet and nation." No politician counts 
consistency as "worth a straw" when the interests 
of his party and constituents are thrown into the 
balance. Jefferson, the arch-enemy of England, 
was now her friend if by such a summersault 
he could win for his western friends the coveted 


prize. The Constitution thus became, even in 
Jefferson's hands, a very elastic document — 
"nothing of moment among friends." The man < 
who had moved heaven and earth because Wash- 
ington and Adams stretched the sacred document 
of 1787 now tore it to pieces and all his friends of 
a former day applauded. Only Adams rubbed his 
eyes. The most popular act of Jefferson's presi- 
dency was the purchase of Louisiana which was 
accomplished a year after he opened the question 
with France — it made certain the allegiance of 
the West and the supremacy of the new party, j 

The next and only great item of Jefferson's 
policy I mean to discuss here is the famous 
Embargo of 1807. The warring powers of 
Europe had decided that there should be no neu- 
trals in the struggle, that America, fast becoming 
the mistress of the carrying trade of the world, 
because of her neutrality, must take sides. Jef- 
ferson desired to sell freely to all parties, "to make 
hay while the sun shines." But when England 
and France pressed hard upon American com- 
merce, trying to compel him to take sides, his 
answer was, "stop all trade with both parties" 


and starve them into a recognition of the demands 
of the United States. And to make sure of his 
poHcy he forbade all American shipping to leave 
port. Millions of dollars worth of goods in ships 
worth other millions rotted in our harbors, out of 
reach of hostile hands. This was firing the barn 
to get rid of the rats. Never did a president at- 
tempt to enforce a more unpopular act. Virginia 
lost enormously, Jefferson himself sacrificing half 
his annual income; but if Virginia lost half 
her annual crop values New England lost three 
fourths. The President was attacked in the 
eastern papers more savagely than John Adams 
had ever been in the southern; political speakers 
held him up as a monster devouring the substance 
of the land; ministers shouted denunciation from 
a thousand pulpits ; and aspiring poets won laurels 
by lampooning the President. But the President 
was a resolute man notwithstanding his sensitive- 
ness to public criticism. He was an idealist and 
he was right in the assumption that a year or two 
of absolute non-intercourse with Europe would 
bring the desired results, recognition of the right 
to a neutral commerce with all the warring powers 


of the world ; but he was wrong in the premise that 
men in general, especially American merchants 
and seamen who had been accustomed for a hun- 
dred years to violate with impunity all the laws 
they did not like, would submit to the necessary 
restrictions upon their actions. Jefferson was 
philosopher enough to see that if he lost one crop 
of tobacco he would get a market for all his future 
crops and he was willing to wait ; the majority of 
planters in Virginia, being now in the ascendency 
in national and state affairs, were induced to sup- 
port their leader, though with many a grimace. 
But New England was the commercial center — 
there Jefferson was regarded as an enemy, there 
men had for three generations "gone down to the 
sea in ships" whether the law favored or forbade. 
They felt no great love for law anyway ; certainly 
none for a law which originated in Virginia. 
They simply defied the President; and Napoleon 
wittily remarked when fie seized many valuable 
cargoes of New England goods that he was only 
helping the American government enforce the 

When the Embargo broke down and the popu- 


larity which so warmed the cockles of Jefferson's 
heart was gone he, like a woman unconvinced, 
"stood pat/' Nothing could move him and he 
went out of office in March, 1809, amidst the hoots 
and cries of derision not unlike those to which 
his ears had been accustomed when Adams was 
president and he presided over the Senate. 
Nevertheless, he, unlike Adams, had put his friend 
in the place he vacated willingly and Madison 
could placate the angry commercialists. It was 
not a triumphal procession, his return to Monti- 
cello; but when he arrived at Charlottesville his 
faithful mountain neighbors had assembled to 
greet him and tell him how much they admired 
him and how glad they were to be honored with 
his friendship. This was soothing; but it could 
hardly obliterate from his mind the thought that 
he had retired a second time from executive 
office with the sharpest criticism of great masses 
of people upon his administration. In 1781 it had 
been Henry and these very up-country people who 
hounded him; now it was New England and the 
northern interests. Anyway he was at Monti- 
cello, his party was still in power and Virginia 


sat at the head of the council board of the nation ; 
his work had not been in vain, and there was never 
k more buoyant and elastic spirit than that which 
animated Thomas Jefferson and carried him 
through so many crises. He took up his daily 
round of study, of riding over his great planta- 
tion and conversing with the friends who came 
in such numbers that his large house was hardly 
large enough to contain them. Henceforth he 
was the "Sage of Monticello." 

Only one other American has enjoyed the real 
distinction of being a national "sage" and that 
one was Andrew Jackson, not one of the three 
great southern men who, more than all others, 
had in their hands the making of the South which 
fought for independence in 1861. Jefferson con- 
tributed the idealistic democracy which grew to 
conservatism under Calhoun, who always insisted 
that he was a follower of the first Republican 
president but who nevertheless made slavery the 
basis of his system, "the stone rejected of the 
builders" thus becoming head of the corner, 


while Jefferson Davis, advancing yet a step 
further, set the world in arms on behalf of slav- 
ery — the property interests, the "privileged inter- 
ests" of the time. It was a long and a deflected 
road from Jefferson to Jefferson Davis; but the 
South traveled it and thought it the king's high- 
way, just as the great Republican party has trav- 
eled from Lincoln to McKinley, thinking the way 
perfectly plain and easy — a development almost 
identical with that of the Democrats from Jackson 
to Buchanan, from liberty and equality to priv- 
ilege and property. But let us see how the 
p;-ogress began. Madison was left in Wash- 
ington to relieve and modify Jefferson's work, 
to please New England if he could. He gave 
up the Embargo, but could not bring England or 
France to any reasonable agreement; and within 
a short two years he was at the threshold of 
war. There was no help for it and the great 
mass of Jefferson's followers joined in the clamor 
for the conflict — a conflict which the South 
proposed to wage on behalf of New England 
and New England's rights! Jefferson thought 
if war came the Americans would capture Canada, 


Florida and Cuba, indeed those were to be the 
limits of the empire of freedom. Yet he Vv^rote 
an English friend that if our countries are at 
war we need not be, and that it was to the interest 
of both England and the United States to be the 
closest of friends. Once again the up-country- 
people of the South, the backwoods men this time 
of Tennessee and Kentucky, volunteered in good 
numbers and won whatever of land victories there 
were. The low-country Republicans like John 
Taylor of Virginia and Macon of North Carolina 
blocked the way to war, crying out that republi- 
canism would go to the wall in the military 
scramble. Jefferson lost as much by the war as 
he had lost by the Embargo; democracy was ex- 
pensive to him. 

But a more interesting phase of Jefferson's 
life during the seventeen years of retirement at 
Monticello was his steady loyalty to the idealism 
of his younger years. His hostility to the Vir- 
ginia constitution — one of the most unjust in 
the country — was creditable to him. It will be 
remembered that the privileged interests of Vir- 
ginia had defeated him in 1776 when they threw 


out his constitutional program; they succeeded 
in distributing the representation of the two great 
sections in such a way as to secure for the next 
half century an overwhelming majority for the 
small eastern counties over the great and popu- 
lous counties of the West. Reaction followed this 
victory of the slaveholding part of the state and 
instead of a progressive and expanding democracy 
we find Virginia becoming more and more a 
government of a privileged class. Public schools 
were wanted in the West but the eastern men 
opposed all such except as they might be supported 
locally ; the West asked for highways which would 
give them markets, but the East forbade them; 
the West believed in universal suffrage, the East 
formed a restricted electorate; and the West op- 
posed a system of representation which secured to 
property the control of local law-making and of 
the federal policy of the state as well, while the 
majority of the people, mainly farmers, remained 

In 1783 and again in 1794 when Jefferson had 
urged upon Virginia a revisal of her fundamental 
law which would have done away with these 


inequalities and broken down the power of the 
oligarchy which dominated the state, much to it '> 
own hurt and the injury of the nation at large, 
Henry had always been the chief obstacle in the 
way of this reform, strange as it may seem; the 
reason of this opposition was not simply Henry's 
hatred of Jefferson, but an inveterate hostility 
on the part of most of the counties south of the 
James where Henry lived. However, in 18 16 
the old reformer takes up the matter near his 
heart in his accustomed way, by urging upon 
some one else the leadership of the fight which 
he will support with all his influence. ^^«— 

Between 1776 and 18 16 one of those gradual 
changes, so common in the history of political 
parties, had been accomplished. Jefferson's fol- 
lowers had in the earlier years of this period 
favored equal representation of all classes of 
people in the legislature ; he and they had favored 
above all else the overthrow of slavery, and the 
party was numerous, if not sufficiently power- 
ful to overcome the opposition or the inertia of 
the East. In 1800 when the great leveling cam- 
paign had been fought in national politics Vir- 


ginia was overwhelmingly Jeffersonian, but less 
radical than in 1776 when the fires of liberalism 
and patriotism were burning briskly. After 1800 
the county leaders of the party in Virginia and in 
the South as well steadily and regularly taught 
their property-holding followers that Jefferson 
was not so radical as had been thought. Was 
he not a slaveholder? Was he not the master 
of the finest estate in Virginia? How could he 
believe in the doctrine that all men are equal; 
certainly he was no longer hostile to slavery. 
Federalists were told again and again during the 
Jefferson and Madison administrations that their 
property (negroes) would not be attacked by the 
leaders of the Republican party. There are fre- 
quent promises of this sort in the addresses of 
local meetings in Virginia. And Madison was 
openly proclaimed the conservative. Men who 
had hated Jefferson voted for Madison as a con- 
servative and former FederaHst. Chief Justice 
Marshall, the strongest defender of slavery, was 
greatly tempted to vote for Madison, though 
he managed to hold his ground and not cast a 
vote in a national election from 1800, when John 


Adams had his support, till 1824 when John 
Quincy Adams was a candidate. The Republic- 
anism of Madison was highly respectable in 
Virginia; many old eastern families supported it 
and easily defended their attitude. But real Jef- 
fersonians like John Taylor who believed in 
reform, like Nathaniel Macon, a pioneer in char- 
acter, were disposed to eschew the little man in / 
the White House. **^ 

During the years of change the county courts 
which had been suppressed in Virginia in 1770 
came once again to dominate Virginia life — but 
the county courts were Jeffersonian, that is, 
the county judges belonged to the Republican 
party and they governed Virginia in a patriarchal 
way as all Virginians love to be governed. Jef- 
ferson said of them: "The justices of the in- 
ferior courts are self-chosen, for life, and per- 
petuate their own body in succession forever, so 
that a faction once possessing themselves of the 
bench of a county can never be broken up, but 
hold their county in chains, forever indissoluble. 
Yet these justices are the real executive as well 
as judiciary, in all minor and most ordinary con- 


cerns. They tax us at will; fill the office of 
sheriff, the most important of all the executive 
oncers of the county; name nearly all our military 
leaders, which leaders, once named, are remov- 
able but by themselves. The juries, our judges 
of all fact, and of law when they choose it, are 
not selected by the people, nor amenable to them. 
Where then is our republicanism (democracy) 
to be found ? . . . The true foundation of repub- 
lican government is the equal right of every 
citizen, in his person and property, and in their 

* What Jefferson here says was meant to apply 
to Virginia in 1816; but it applied any time be- 
tween 1800 and 1850. The county courts prac»- 
tically chose the candidates, for the legislature; 
these, whether Whig or Democratic made little 
difference, when elected, selected the governor and 
the judges of the higher courts, chose United 
States senators and created districts and counties 
— units of representation — when they thought it 
wise to do so. A majority of the courts were 
located in the East in 18 16 as in 1800, in 1850 
* Works of Thomas Jefferson (Ford's Fed. Ed.) XII, 5-7. 


as in 1820, for the legislature took good care 
that the western counties, no matter how popu- 
lous that section, should never come to power. 
This condition of things Jefferson, the old man of 
181 6, declared to be Iniquitous; he had said the 
same when he was a young visionary writing 
the Declaration of Independence. His remedy 
was: "Reduce your legislature to a convenient 
number for full but orderly discussion. Let 
every man who fights or pays excise have his 
just and equal right in their selection. Submit 
them to approbation or rejection (the recall ?) at 
short intervals. Let the executive be chosen in 
the same way, and for the same term, by those 
whose agent he is to be ; . . . divide the counties 
into wards of such size as that every citizen can 
attend, when called on, and act in person. 
Ascribe to them the government of their wards 
in all things relating to themselves exclusively. 
A justice, chosen by themselves, in each, a con- 
stable, a military company, a patrol, a school, 
the care of their poor. . . . These wards, called 
townships in New England, are the vital principle 
of their governments, and have proved them- 


selves the wisest invention ever devised by the 
wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-govern- 
ment, and for its preservation." He concludes this 
remarkable letter^ by urging universal suffrage, 
equal representation, popular election of govern- 
ors and judges and periodical amendments to the 

When one remembers what such a program 
would have meant for Virginia in 1816 one's 
surprise increases that an old man, the owner of 
a hundred slaves and the master of thousands 
of acres of land — an ex-president of the nation — 
could have urged it. Simple democracy not 
republicanism, Is what he advocated ; and democ- 
racy would have been as hostile to slavery as it 
was to the unfair system of representation sus- 
tained by the constitution of Virginia. 

This letter had hardly reached the hands of the 
up-country men before it was being copied and 
circulated preparatory to their coming demon- 
stration, August, 181 6, against the old order and 
the eastern oligarchy. It was not long before 
its contents reached the ears of eastern leaders 
*To Samuel Kercheval, the up-country historian. 


like Giles and Littleton W. Tazewell; and a 
commotion was raised about the ears of the "Man 
of the Mountain" which greatly pleased Chief 
Justice Marshall who always manifested delight 
when his life-long enemy found himself sharply 
criticized. True to his nature Jefferson wrote 
a second and a third letter beseeching Kercheval, 
after the manner of a girl in her teens, never more 
to show his letter nor to allow copies. He was 
an old man who loved his ease; he was willing 
to be governed by the little oligarchies, the county 
courts, or the one-sided legislature, during the 
remnant of years that remained to him. It is al- 
most pitiful to note the sensitiveness of this able 
statesman but thorough-going democrat. He had 
given out a bit of his daily thought to his beloved 
Virginia and Virginia was suddenly divided into 
two camps as in the days when he and Patrick 
Henry were leading the great revolt. He had 
proposed what would have revolutionized Vir- 
ginia and made civil war unnecessary in the 
nation; but the dominant section of the Old 
Dominion was not the open-minded commumty 
he thought it ought to be. The people of the 


East were no longer levelers, revolutionists, demo- 
crats, even if they had ever been such. The 
Federalists had metamorphosed the party which 
Jefferson had founded. Chief Justice Marshall 
more nearly represented that party than did Jef- 
ferson himself. He stood for property ; Jefferson 
for human rights as of old — and there could be 
no harmony between such men. 

The up-country democrats had their meeting: 
they read Jefferson's advice, and demanded a 
new constitutional convention. But no eastern 
county joined them and few of the great black 
counties sent delegates. A line drawn from 
Washington City to Danville, Virginia, would 
have been a sort of Mason and Dixon's line on 
either side of which dwelt hostile camps. The 
legislature, still dominated by the slavery coun- 
ties, which heard the next winter, 1 816-17, the cry 
of the populous and growing West, "stood pat'*, 
to use a modern term, and paid no more heed 
to Jefferson's advice than had the party of reaction 
in the days when Jefferson sent to Williamsburg 
his constitution, yet almost every member of that 
body professed to be ardent followers of the 


*'Sage of Monticello" — all were Republicans! 
Not until after Jefferson's death was there a 
serious effort to give Virginia a just constitution. 


Had Jefferson and his friends been successful 
in 1816 in their reform movement slavery would 
have disappeared in Virginia by state action.^ 
The up-country was then and remained until 1850 
hostile to the "institution" and a legislature 
which they dominated would almost certainly 
have brought about its gradual overthrow. In 
fact this was the chief source of opposition on the 
part of the West to the constitution. Jefferson 
himself was actuated by this motive. 

But Virginia was becoming wedded to slavery 
and the form of society which it produced during 
the first and second decades of the nineteenth 
century, and slavery had fastened itself firmly 
upon the vitals of the middle counties which 
had not been the case in 1776. The East had 
moved westward by two tiers of counties since 
Jefferson first laid his axe at the root of the nox- 
ious tree of privilege. Besides Virginia enjoyed 


an increased representation in congress by reason 
of slavery and this had come to be appreciated 
as fully as it had been by South Carolina and 
Georgia when they made it a condition to their 
entering the union in 1787-88. Virginia had 
then been indifferent to this compromise of the 
constitution; but now her leaders had come to 
agree with the lower South on this point. Again 
Virginia slave-owners were migrating to Alabama 
and Mississippi in great numbers and founding 
there new pro-slavery commonwealths; many 
others bought plantations in the new cotton coun- 
try and stocked them with slaves but continued to 
live in the Old Dominion, all of which tended to 
fasten slavery upon the old commonwealth. Be- 
sides the inter-state slave trade had grown to be a 
good business. The Chief Justice of Virginia had 
been willing in 181 5 to buy a "likely negro" for 
sale to the southward and William B. Giles had 
come to reckon the export slave trade as one of 
the great economic resources of Virginia. Before 
1832 the majority of the public men of Virginia 
acknowledged the force of this economic argu- 
ment and definitely accepted slavery as a blessing 


not to be interfered with from within or without. 
Still Jefferson did not yield. Not a year passed 
without a lament from him that his work of 1776 
had been "nipped in the bud." In 18 14 he 
wrote :^ "Yet the hour of emancipation is advan- 
cing, in the march of time. It will come; and 
whether brought on by the generous energy of 
our own minds; or by the bloody process of 
St. Domingo, excited and conducted by the 
power of our present enemy [Great Britain], if 
once stationed permanently within our country, 
and offering asylum & arms to the oppressed, 
is a leaf of our history not yet turned over.'' 
The next year: "That it [emancipation of the 
slaves] may finally be effected, and its progress 
hastened, will be the last and fondest prayer of 
him who now salutes you." And to Fanny 
Wright he said that the usual arguments in 
defense of slavery had no basis in fact, that the 
negro would prove equal to his own preservation 
if set free. George McDuffie of South Carolina 
advanced the doctrine in 1825 that slavery was 

^ Works of Thomas Jefferson (Ford's Fed. Ed.) XI, 417; 
ibid 471. 


right and that one man could rightfully possess 
himself of the faculties of another without his 
consent. To this Jefferson replied in one of the 
last letters he ever wrote that he sharply dis- 
sented, that he retained his early principles on 
the subject; but that he was opposed to inter- 
ference with slavery by the federal government.^ 

These were the ideas of the retired statesman. 
He never yielded his hostility to "the institu- 
tion"; he was always solicitous lest some catas- 
trophe come upon the South because of it, and 
he inspired his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Ran- 
dolph, with the great plan of emancipation which 
was presented to the Virginia legislature in 1831, 
five years after his death. Under the stimulus 
of the Nat Turner insurrection the Virginia 
assembly discussed this scheme for months, and 
at one time it seemed that the great work, gradual 
emancipation, would be inaugurated. By a single 
vote the grand committee, appointed to devise 
a plan, returned an adverse report. The leaders 
of the southern counties, where slavery was deeply 
rooted, won the day and lived to urge secession 

* Works of Thomas Jefferson (Ford's Fed. Ed.) XII, 469. 


in 1 86 1 as a further means of perpetuating their 
power and preserving their favorite property. 

Jefferson's influence had thus been strong 
enough to bring his great old state to the very- 
threshold of the wisest movement ever inaugu- 
rated there. Still it failed. Upper and western 
Virginia had failed again ; and property interests, 
then as usual, maintained the upper hand as 
against human and personal rights. A new 
prophet now came forth; Thomas R. Dew, 
the President of William and Mary College, 
spoke for Virginia when he ridiculed the Dec- 
laration of Independence^ and proceeded to prove 
that all men are not equal. From 1832 to 1861 
Jefferson's name was not fondly emblazoned on 
the party standards of Virginia except as he 
had stood for states rights; his real idealism, 
the work of his life, was repudiated. And what 
Virginia assented to South Carolina proclaimed 
from the housetops and from the sacred desk 
— Jefferson was a failure. Few states or com- 
munities ever made so momentous or fatal a mis- 
take as did Virginia at this crisis. John G. 

^Pro-Slavery Argument, 255 (Ed. of 1852). 


Birney was then in northern Alabama working for 
abolition and pointing his followers to the example 
of the glorious Old Dominion as she threw off 
the yoke, for he thought the decision would be 
for emancipation; the Kentucky abolitionists 
were expecting the old Mother State to deliver 
the great blow to the institution which was then 
fixing itself upon the young and sturdy West. 
Theodore Weld and John Rankin of Ohio thought 
the day of their successful preaching was dawn- 
ing. Verily, the nation would have been saved 
the awful struggle of 1861 to 1865 and the 
democracy which Jefferson foreshadowed in his 
famous Declaration might really have come into 
being. But Virginia and the South, not the 
North, decided otherwise. 

This little sketch of our greatest American 
idealist would not be complete without a word as 
to the sorrows of his last years. When he left 
the White House in 1809 he was compelled to 
borrow some thousands of dollars to meet the 
expenses of his household while president. A 
friend, Mr. Venable of Virginia, and President 
Madison, endorsed for him at the United States 


bank in Washington. During the second war 
with England he sold some property in Richmond 
for his friend, Philip Mazzei, the Italian agent of 
Virginia in Europe during the Revolution, the 
proceeds of which amounted to some six thou- 
sand dollars. Holding the money till the end of 
the war in order to save it for his friend, he in- 
vested it. But his own financial affairs became 
so pressing by this time that he continued to hold 
this money and pay interest to Mazzei or his 
heirs. Thus his debts waxed from year to year. 
Owing many thousand dollars already, the war 
of 18 12 made matters worse by destroying his 
market for tobacco, leaving his many slaves a 
burden to him. At the end, two fat years of 
commerce and fair markets were followed by the 
severe financial panic which well-nigh ruined 
Virginia. Land lost more than half its value. 
Jefferson thought he could hardly get more than 
the amount of a single year's rent for his best 
tracts in 18 19. His debts enlarged relatively and 
absolutely. It was impossible to meet the obli- 
gations which came upon him; but in 18 19 his 
friend Wilson Gary Nicholas for whom he was 


security in the sum of $20,000 failed and Jefferson 
was compelled to sell lands to meet these unex- 
pected but inexorable obligations. The Master 
of MonticellOj through no fault of his own, was 
thus burdened with a load of debt that would 
have staggered the best of managers and Jefferson 
was not a good manager. 

From the first year of his retirement thousands 
of people of all grades, from the Marquis 
LaFayette to the new-made congressman from 
a western or southern state, visited Monticello. 
There were no hotels in Charlottsville worthy the 
name but Jefferson was good enough Virginian 
to keep "open house" and always to invite his 
guests to dinner. Men and women and children 
availed themselves of the hospitality of the great 
ex-president; they came by tens and dozens and 
frequently remained weeks at a time. The Duke 
of Saxe-Weimar and his following cost Jeffer- 
son a handsome sum; LaFayette spent several 
days at Monticello in 1824 when the auctioneer's 
hammer was already raised for the final fall. 
From 18 1 5 to 1826 it was a constant stream of 
guests coming and going at all seasons. When 


the University of Virginia was being built, the 
trustees held their meetings with him ; politicians 
like Clay and Crawford stopped on the way to 
and from Washington. Young George Ticknor, 
about to set out for Europe in pursuit of his 
studies, spent a week at Monticello in 181 5; and 
Edward Everett was doubly welcome for his fine 
bearing and good conversation. 

Under these increasing burdens, Jefferson first 
asked Congress to buy his library which had cost 
him a hundred thousand dollars ; Congress offered 
twenty-four thousand and received the prize. 
Thus began in thrift our great national library. 
But this scarcely stayed the auctioneer's ham- 
mer. He next turned to the Virginia legislature 
asking for the privilege of selling most of his 
estate by lottery — a way of raising money still 
common in that part of the country. It was an 
affecting petition which he sent to this assembly, 
composed largely of men whose political fortunes 
had depended at one time or another upon him 
and his work. He enumerated modestly his 
sacrifices for the state and nation; he told of the 
offices he had held and of the bitter conflict he 


had been compelled to pass through when the 
Federalists had been overthrown. He went so 
far even as to remind them of his efforts to over- 
throw slavery in Virginia! "If," he concluded, 
"permitted to sell in this way, all will be honestly 
and honorably paid, I can save the house at 
Monticello, and a farm adjoining, end my days 
and bury my bones. If not, I must sell house 
and all here and carry my family to Bedford, 
where I have not even a log hut to put my head 

Jefferson's appeal would have been received 
with warmer sympathy by the legislators if he 
had omitted all reference to his reform work. 
His ideals were not the ideals of the men who 
directed Virginia affairs in 1826. The party 
which he had organized and led to victory in 1800 
had come to be the very bulwark of conservatism, 
the guarantee of "things as they are," not as they 
ought to be. But Jefferson was an old man, a 
hero of Revolutionary days and much was al- 
lowed him. Some opposition was offered; oppo- 
sition which threatened even to deny him his 

' Works of Thomas Jefferson (Ford's Fed. Ed.) XII, 45i- 


request, but his personal friends were many and 
after some delay which gave him much distress, 
a bill was passed providing for the sale of Thomas 
Jefferson's estates by means of a lottery ! 

The tale of his distress, and the way he became 
involved, spread abroad and soon a public sub- 
scription was made up and the money forwarded 
to his friends. He was much gratified to find so 
many people, especially in the North, ready to 
repay some of the sacrifices which he had made 
on behalf of the general good. The great estate 
was not sold during its owner's lifetime. The 
creditors did not push their demands until after 
Jefferson's death in July following, when it was 
found that the lottery had not been successful, 
and men ceased their subscriptions or refused to 
pay after the great old man was dead. The beau- 
tiful and valuable estate of Monticello which had 
been the "handsomest in America" was sold for 
less than a third of its real value and Jefferson's 
debts were not paid from the receipts of his 
property, but from the pockets of his loyal and 
devoted executors. It was a poor showing. A 
property which had once yielded ten to fifteen 


thousand a year had not been sufficient to main- 
tain one of the simplest of all our great men, and 
the only daughter of the ex-president was left 
to the tender mercies of kinspeople or the cold 
charity of the great outside world. But the 
South Carolina legislature made an appropriation 
of ten thousand dollars to Martha Jefferson Ran- 
dolph, which enabled her to take her family to 
Washington and live in a barely respectable way, 
where she had formerly been "first lady of the 

Jefferson's death was as dramatic as his life 
had been eventful. On the fiftieth anniversary 
of the Declaration of Independence, both he and 
his friend and co-worker of 1776, John Adams, 
gave up whatever was left of life, each thinking 
that the other survived. The country and the 
world noted the strange coincidence and were 
convinced that God had ordered the end as He 
had perhaps directed all along the remarkable 
careers of these chosen leaders of a new nation. 






NOT many of us know John C. Calhoun as 
he was, as he lived and moved among 
Americans of the last century. No 
political party looks back to Calhoun as its founder 
or rejuvenator, no group of public men proclaim 
allegiance to his doctrines, no considerable group 
of individuals outside of South Carolina profess 
any love for his name and ideals. While all 
parties seek to find in Jefferson's writings justifi- 
cation for their programs, none dare admit their 
present policy to be even remotely descended from 
the teaching of the great Carolinian ; yet Calhoun 
had the approval while a young man of the great 
Virginian and died more beloved by a greater 
number of Americans than even the Sage of 
Monticello. When Jefferson died Virginia wept, 
but not loudly; when Calhoun's body was car- 
ried to Charleston in April, 1850, the whole state 


mourned as though each man had lost his father. 
For weeks the ordinary course of business was 
interrupted and months afterward men talked 
gloomily as they met upon the streets of Charles- 
ton. Only twice in the history of the country 
have men felt so keenly the loss of one of their 
leaders — December, 1799, and April, 1864. 

It was a simple life that Calhoun led, yet 
tragedy played with him as with its true child, 
and a tragic fate awaited in 1850 those who saw 
the grave close over his mortal remains; and to- 
day the people of a great state think of him as 
of no other American and linger sadly about the 
tomb where their fathers laid him — a people who 
still feel more keenly than all others the weight 
of Sherman's terrible blows in 1864 and 1865, 
who still insist that their cause and his was just. 

Like Jefferson, Calhoun came from the plain 
people. His father and mother were Scotch, 
whose fathers and mothers came to the country 
as poor immigrants just a half century before 
the Revolution. They traversed the mountains 
and hills of the South from Pennsylvania to 
Georgia in search of a place to build their cabin. 


And tHey settled finally in the up-country of 
South Carolina and there fought the Indians in 
many a severe struggle both giving and taking 
the hardest blows. Calhoun's grandmother v^as 
killed by the savages while his uncle was mur- 
dered by Tories during the Revolutionary war; 
and all the members of the family of the two 
generations which preceded John were engaged 
in an endless struggle with nature for the meager 
requirements of their frugal habits. 

Young Calhoun, born in the year following 
Yorktown, surrounded by strife and famine and 
bloodshed, knew none of the pleasures which 
boys of our day think only their just portion. 
There were many slaves in South Carolina, but 
only one or two in the Calhoun family, and as 
soon as our hero was large enough he was put to 
the hard tasks of frontier farm life. But mani- 
festing much native alertness, he was sent at the 
age of twelve, to live in the family of his brother- 
in-law, a Presbyterian preacher, to learn some- 
thing of books. He read so much and so closely 
that his health seemed to be undermined, and his 
father took him home; and from his thirteenth 


to his nineteenth year he daily followed the 
plow alongside his father or the negro slave, 
Sawney. It was decided that he might try books 
again and he went to live a second time with his 
brother-in-law who was now the head of a large 
"log college," as the backwoods schools were 
called a hundred years ago. 

This log college was not such an institution as 
Jefferson attended. There was no light-hearted- 
ness in this Latin school of the wilderness where 
the boys lived in small cabins, chopped their own 
firewood, rose with the sun each day and, study- 
ing the ancient classics from morn till night, 
rested only on the Sabbath. The teacher was a 
stern master whose purpose was to build anew in 
his adopted country the kirk of his Scotch fathers, 
and right well did he perform his task except that 
many of his pupils became great lawyers rather 
than great divines. Calhoun and James L. Petigru 
and George McDuffie were all of the same school. 
Two years of Latin and Greek in the South 
Carolina forest school were sufficient to enable 
Calhoun to enter the junior class at Yale, his 
chosen college, and he finished the course two 


years later with the highest honors. At Yale 
the life was stern, Puritanical and cold; and so 
was Calhoun. In no sense could he be compared 
to Jefferson at William and Mary where the boy 
was ever ready to join the gay life of the com- 
munity; there was no gaiety in New Haven as 
there had been none in the South Carolina which 
Calhoun had known. But instead of "falling in" 
with the political ways of New England and its 
proud Federalism, the young Carolinian resisted 
firmly whatever influence he felt and was disposed 
to debate even with President Dwight the cause 
of Thomas Jefferson his beau ideal in politics. 

From Yale to a good Federalist law school at 
Litchfield, Connecticut, he next went as though 
to beard the lion in his den, for his law teachers 
were such good opponents of the Jefferson regime 
that they were urging New England to secede 
from the unholy union with the Virginia Delilah, 
and make a country of their own^ and a govern- 
ment after their own hearts. Calhoun drank 
deep of the learning of New England but not of 
its spirit. He returned to South Carolina to 
* Gaillard Hunt's Life of Calhoun, p. 15. 


continue his study of the law and to begin its 
practice in 1807. While successful as a lawyer, 
he had less liking for the profession than had 
Jefferson, and in a few years he settled down on 
a farm near the ancestral home in Abbeville dis- 
trict, there to make himself a country gentleman 
and local leader, a man to guide his neighbors 
and now and then to represent them in the state 

But two things had happened to influence pro- 
foundly the career of the young up-country 
planter : years ago when his father was a member 
of the legislature, which then sat in Charleston, 
he had attended a negro auction and bought a 
"likely" negro man. It was an unusual thing 
for an up-country man to do before the opening 
of the nineteenth century; but the stern Puritan 
of the frontier yielded to the pressure of aristo- 
cratic example in his state, and put his negro, 
Adam, upon the horse with himself and journeyed 
home. From that day Adam and not Calhoun 
dominated the family thoughts. Adam fixed the 
destiny of the Calhoun children who in turn did 
much to shape the social life of the up-country. 


Of course Adam must have a wife and soon came 
the negro family with black Sawney who was 
given to young John Calhoun as a personal serv- 
ant. John and Sawney had followed the plow 
together and together did much of the daily toil 
inseparable from farm life; the Calhoun home- 
stead was not yet a plantation. 

The other event which linked Calhoun to aristo- 
cratic South Carolina was his marriage in 181 1 to 
Floride Bonneau Calhoun, a wealthy cousin, who 
was already identified with the Charleston aristoc- 
racy. The Bonneaus were Huguenots of the 
highest social standing, trained in the traditions 
of the old colonial families. Their view of life 
was very different from that of the rough Abbe- 
ville district; but, as always in Southern social 
evolution, the older families readily accepted 
alliance with the promising and talented mem- 
bers of the lower order and thus renewed their 
vigor and strength, at the same time consolidating 
the masses whom it was fashionable nevertheless 
to regard as inferior. Being identified with 
slavery and united in marriage to an "old family" 
Calhoun became an integral part of the best life 


of his state, plain and democratic as he was in all 
his tastes and feelings. 

Calhoun was a product of the hills, of the peo- 
ple who usually voted against the low country; 
his father had been looked upon with contempt in 
Charleston when he ridiculed the federal consti- 
tution which in South Carolina as in Virginia 
was forced upon the state by the great property 
interests, slavery in particular. The Calhouns 
were Jeffersonians and of course could not be 
counted as of the privileged class, yet even Pinck- 
neys and Rutledges had voted for the radical 
Virginian. So that when young Calhoun settled 
down as the master of an estate, "Bath" by name, 
and gradually gathered slaves and horses and a 
growing family about him, there was no denying 
him a place in the existing order of things. Be- 
sides he had made good his pretensions by going 
in proper season to Charleston, if not to partici- 
pate in the races, at least to acknowledge that the 
gay city had its claims upon all gentlemen. 

The year of Calhoun's marriage he "stood for 
congress" for the lower district of South Carolina 
as a supporter of a warlike policy against Great 


Britain. It was not difficult in 1811 to win 
sympathy in this region of the South by "twisting 
the lion's tail," and Calhoun, whose grandmother 
had been slain by Indians, instigated to the deed 
by English agents, and whose uncle had been 
wantonly slain by a Tory, was the proper person 
to "run" upon a platform of defiance to England. 
Besides the whole back-country of America had 
been irritated and angered by the British policy 
of stirring up troubles on the border and retaining 
on her pension rolls Indian chiefs whose business 
it was to prevent the growth of the young repub- 
lic. It was not love for New England shipping 
that caused Calhoun or the South to demand 
a war for sailors' rights, but the desire to 
be rid of the obstacles which England was con- 
stantly putting in the way of building up the 
West. The West was an ally of the South 
and every new state established in that region 
only rendered the more certain the isolation 
and helplessness of New England. As Calhoun 
thought in 181 1 so thought also Grundy of 
Tennessee, Clay of Kentucky, and Porter, a west- 
erner, of New York — and indeed most of the 


men who were returned to congress that year. 
With his place in South Carolina fixed, a fair 
reputation as a leader among his people and a 
definite program for national action, Calhoun 
entered congress for the first time in December, 
1811. He was twenty-nine years old, full six feet 
tall, with head and shoulders slightly inclined 
forward, dark hair which fell down over his 
temples, and deep set eyes either blue or gray 
according to his mood, and, withal, an air of 
commanding intelligence which readily impressed 
itself upon all who came into touch with him. He 
was tender, kind-hearted, somewhat abashed as 
yet when in the presence of the great, rustic 
rather than polished in manner; he was unac- 
customed to drink or carousing, pure-minded 
as a woman but unromantic, never having read 
a volume of poetry in his life nor thought out a 
rhyme even during the days of his courtship with 
Floride Bonneau, his wife. But this modesty 
and even country plainness did not indicate 
absence of will or lack of energy sufficient to 
make his influence felt in any gathering. Calhoun 
was the equal of any of the great men who 


entered congress on that eventful first Tuesday in 
December, as the country was soon to learn. 

And this latent power and boundless energy 
of mind was at the service, like Jefferson's, of 
the plain back-country people who were beginning 
to see what their role in national politics might 
be; he was ready to speak for democracy which 
then meant national power and self-respect. It 
was the West which had brought Jefferson to 
power in 1800; the West now sent to Washington 
the vigorous young men who were to rebuke 
Jefferson and his successor and friend, Madison, 
for not asserting the national spirit as against the 
brutal and overbearing conduct of Great Britain. 
It was not slaveholding South Carolina which 
spoke in Calhoun; nor was it the timid property 
interests that had spoken in the last elections — ^but 
the people restive under the restraints of older and 
more conservative leaders. 

The South Carolina group in congress during 
our second war with England was almost as re- 
markable as that from the up-country of Virginia 
in 1800 when Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and 
Marshall all hailed from the same neighborhood 


of the Old Dominion. William Lowndes, Lan^- 
don Cheves and John C. Calhoun were not so 
fortunate as the men who composed the Virginia 
dynasty; but they were quite as able and one of 
them was destined to attain a fame as great as 
any of the Virginians save Jefferson alone. The 
three South Carolinians were all young men, all 
Republicans and from the same* section of their 
state — a sort of up-country product. Clay, the 
speaker, was embarrassed by the ability of his 
friends from South Carolina. Notwithstanding 
the complaints of some, the great committees, 
naval, appropriations and foreign relations, were 
guided and directed by them, and when Calhoun 
suggested that, since he was the youngest member 
from his state, his name be dropped as member 
of the committee on foreign relations, the new 
chairman. Smiley of Pennsylvania, resigned in 
order that Calhoun, the second member, might 
not thus escape the position which his abilities 

The development of the South under Jefferson 
and the Virginia dynasty had been rapid. Popu- 
lation had poured into Kentucky, Tennessee and 


other Mississippi communities; the back-country 
of the nation had fallen to the portion of the 
South. Western men everywhere were support- 
ers of the Democratic-Republican program. But 
the leadership of this expanding, restless South 
was fast shifting from Virginia to South Caro- 
lina; and economic supremacy had already de- 
parted from the Old Dominion. South Carolina 
exports in 18 10 totaled $10,600,000 while those 
of Virginia had fallen to $4,500,000. Moreover 
tobacco, the great Southern staple, had given place 
to cotton of which $15,000,000 worth had been 
grown during the same year. South Carolina 
was the land of cotton, and the up-lands, not the 
proud and domineering Tidewater, were reaping 
the rich harvests. 

It was not unnatural then that the most power- 
ful group in Congress in 181 1 should hail from 
the Palmetto state and that the very existence of 
the Virginia dynasty should depend on the good 
will of South Carolina and Kentucky. The mili- 
tant reformers of 1800 had become conservative 
before 181 1 and a majority of Jefferson's follow- 
ers had become what would to-day be called 


"stand^patters." They were not nationalists and 
they did not feel the sting of English insult. 
Their opponents, the Federalists or New England 
leaders, failed likewise to recognize the rising 
spirit of the people. If New England had been 
nationalist an alliance with the West might easily 
have given them control of the country and a new 
lease of political power. But they failed and never 
again were Federalists to occupy the coveted 
places at the national council board. 

The younger Republicans disgusted with their 
own party and with the men whom they had 
been accustomed to call great, like the insurgents 
of our time, Democratic as well as Republican, 
formulated a program of their own and forced 
it upon a halting and trembling administration. 
They gave Madison and Monroe, the Virgin- 
ians of the old school, the option of declaring 
war upon England in defense of the new na- 
tionalism and on behalf of a militant Southern 
and .Western imperialism or of yielding the 
leadership of the country which had come to them 
from Jefferson. It gave the Virginians much 
agony of soul to make the choice but they were 


not long in doubt which horn of the dilemma 
to seize. With the administration in their hands 
the insurgents found little difficulty in bringing 
Congress around to their view. Thus Calhoun 
and Clay and Grundy became the most power- 
ful governing element of the rejuvenated party 
and the West and South proceeded to punish 
England by taking from her the long coveted 
Canada and the lucrative fur trade of the "west- 
ern waters." The war was a failure from the start 
and many a time during the years of 18 13 and 
1 8 14 young men like Clay were about to go to 
the front to make good their bold promises. After 
many rebuffs, the failure of all the efforts against 
Canada and the direst distress among the people, 
the struggle came almost by accident to a close 
without loss of territory. The older politicians, 
the Federalists, who came near regaining control 
more than once during these years, retired finally 
and the younger men chastened by disaster were 
given the field. Theirs was the task of recon- 
struction and of building well the foundations of 
the nation which they had insisted had been in 
existence from the beginning. The opportunity 


was not unlike that which came to Washington 
and Hamilton in 1789 or to the Republican lead- 
ers in 1866. 

Aside from the war policy of 18 12, Calhoun's 
name is not associated particularly with any of 
the events of the time before 18 16 when the work 
of reconstruction was to be done. It was at that 
time that Calhoun's genius as a leader of men 
and a political philosopher of the greatest im- 
portance became known to the country. The 
leadership, the initiative of the time, was in the 
House of Representatives, the President and 
Cabinet practically abdicating, and Calhoun, after 
Clay, was the first man in the House group. 

It had been an alliance of the South and West 
which supported the war policy, and western and 
southern communities had furnished the recruits 
for the armies and the leaders for the campaigns. 
Now that the war had come to an end, this alliance 
was expected to solve the problems entailed by the 
war. And what was clearly the greatest work 
of the time was the leveling of the Alleghanies. 
The war had shown above all else that easy 
communication between Washington and Pitts- 


burg, Richmond and Cincinnati was the great 
national problem and, politically, the removal of 
this difficulty would make the union of South! 
and West permanent and render the opposition of 
New England harmless. It was not a question 
for constitutional hairsplitting, but a practical 
matter that must be met at the peril of national 
existence. The policy of protection and home 
markets, of finance and banking, was secondary. 
It was in this light, at least, that Calhoun 
viewed the matter of internal improvements and 
consequently we find him taking the lead in this 
work — in making great highways and canals 
which should make markets for Kentucky and 
the Northwest in Baltimore, Richmond and 
Charleston, and bind the seacoast people to their 
kindred in the great interior. "I speak not for 
South Carolina, but the nation," was his open 
defiance to those who would put states rights and 
local advantage before his large scheme. What 
he desired was so to unite the interests and sec- 
tions of the country that a second Hartford con- 
vention would offer no terrors, and his method 
was to apply or expand national powers in a way 


that would enable the government to overcome 
the great mountain barriers. To find money for 
the accomplishment of such an undertaking he 
was willing to enact tariff laws and even to give 
protection to American industry against foreign 
competition, but his fundamental purpose was 
always to build up the nation against the forces 
of disintegration so painfully prevalent during 
the recent crisis. 

,We have here the key to Calhoun's career — he 
sees clearly what is needed ; he is an ardent patriot 
and his imagination portrays to him a great and 
expanding country. In this he was at one with 
Jefferson who could violate the constitution and 
his own understanding of his powers as president 
in order to make room for the future. Calhoun 
was ready also to ignore the plain terms of the 
fundamental law if he could carry out his purpose. 

But other men felt as did Calhoun. Clay saw 
the needs of the time and likewise proposed to 
brush away the cobwebs of law; he was more 
ardent and more ambitious than Calhoun, and in 
order to hasten the realization of his ambition as 
well as his scheme of national greatness, he threw 


out tHe bait of a protective tariff for protection's 
sake and put the stress on building up home 
markets at the "cost of the foreigner." Clay con- 
ceived early of the union of the North and the 
West, and year after year, until 1824, offered his 
increasing measure of protection until he won the 
votes in the House of practically every middle 
states' man and a majority of the East. Thus the 
rivalry of the two leaders became patent early in 
their careers; it was to grow bitter as the years 
passed until these great men could not exchange 
friendly greetings when they met on the street or 
in the Senate. 

Monroe offered Calhoun a seat in the cabinet in 
18 1 7 — the war portfolio — and, though the same 
position had been refused by Clay, Shelby of 
Tennessee, and Lowndes, he took it without com- 
plaint or condition and, it may as well be said, 
made the ablest war secretary the Government 
ever had till Jefferson Davis came to the same 
office in 1853. While Calhoun was at the council 
board Clay was speaker of the House and organ- 
izing l)is following, and Jackson, as yet an unsus- 
pected rival for high honors, was silently growing 


upon the democracy of the West, Clay, a west- 
ern man, undertook to build upon a system of 
special privilege and bind the wealthy East and 
the pioneer West together — the manufacturer 
and the producer of raw materials; Jackson was 
making his appeal to the imagination of the plain 
people of the older states as well ; while Crawford, 
a fellow cabinet member, undertook to mobilize 
the old Jefferson forces and popularity; and John 
Quincy Adams had the advantage of being in the 
line of promotion, as both Madison and Monroe 
had gone to the presidency from the office of 
secretary of state. Calhoun watched this "hurdle 
race" with keen understanding, while his fellows 
all regarded him as a promising but immature 
politician. Late in this period of bitter rivalry^ 
all the candidates realized that even Calhoun had 
been listening to the hum of the presidential bee, 
and suddenly all turned upon him like the prover- 
bial dogs in the fight for the bone. From that 
day this "captivating man," as Adams had pro- 
nounced him, became most uncaptivating and Cal- 
houn himself never ceased to long for and strive 
for the presidency. Much of the bitterness of 


his life and many of the Vv^oes of his country, 
possibly the civil war itself, may be traced directly 
to the failure of the people to make him chief 


In 1824 Calhoun was as popular in Pennsyl- 
vania as was Jackson, and friends in that state 
were the first to bring forward the South Carolina 
candidate for the presidency, and he in turn was 
not averse to assuring manufacturing interests in 
the North that he was as good a protectionist as 
Clay or Adams. But Jackson was the idol al- 
ready of the Southwest, Tennessee, western 
Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The ruthless 
policy of the hero of New Orleans toward the 
Indians stimulated the border appetite for new 
lands, and what delighted the Southwest pleased 
also the Northwest where the presence of the 
Indians was as unwelcome as in Georgia. Jack- 
son's fame had been greatly enhanced by his ex- 
ploits in Florida and he was rather liked for his 
summary hanging of a few foreigners, especially 
Englishmen and Spaniards, even if it jeopardized 
the peace of the country ; and the more the older 


leaders like Clay attacked the bold general the 
more resolutely the people called for Jackson 
as their future standard bearer. Nothing was 
clearer in early 1824 than that Jackson had won 
the lasting friendship of the West. 

As Calhoun was stronger in the older section 
of the country and especially in the older South, 
he joined his forces to those of the older candi- 
date, being convinced — and in fact Jackson re- 
peatedly declared that he was too old to run for 
the presidency — that four years later the West 
would appreciate his conduct and he would be 
made president. Thus we have the first under- 
standing, the first practical agreement, whereby 
the West was to support the South and Calhoun 
in the presidential game. Calhoun was chosen 
vice-president, receiving almost unanimous sup- 
port, while Jackson was, as the rough charges of 
the day would have it, defrauded of the presidency 
by a bargain consummated in the House of Repre- 
sentatives between Clay and Adams. This made 
a new trial of strength between Adams and Jack- 
son certain and Calhoun kept aloof from the con- 
flict though he was regarded as a friend of the 



doughty general. Clay continued his almost dis- 
reputable effort to consolidate the North, East and 
.West in his own behalf by urging a tariff as ab- 
surdly high as even the wool growers could ask. 
Calhoun was compelled to sacrifice much of his 
strength in the North in order to retain even a 
remnant of his popularity in the South where the 
opposition to the tariff had become almost fanat- 
ical. Still Calhoun was elected vice-president with 
Jackson as president in 1828 and almost without 
opposition. He was everywhere regarded as the 
successor to Jackson in 1832 if only the tariff 
quarrel should not upset all plans. 

However, the way of the politician is as hard 
as the rewards are sometimes high. Calhoun 
must bring Jackson to a low tariff view and he 
must keep his South Carolina people "in hand'* 
until the President could effect the change. But 
Jackson was not willing to sacrifice his following 
in Pennsylvania which Clay was hoping he would 
do in order to please South Carolina. The West, 
his base of operations, was not aroused about the 
tariff anyway. On the other hand South Car- 
olina had, even then, a reputation for having 


things her own way and particularly now that 
the enemies of Calhoun had such a good chance 
to punish him for his too broad nationalism. The 
tomahawk was therefore taken up with vigor in 
the Palmetto state in 1827-28. William Smith 
who had been accused of profiting to the extent 
of $25,000 from Hamilton's funding system, 
when the former was a member of the House, and 
who had taken "orders from the Treasury," now 
came out boldly against Calhoun and all his ways. 
President Thomas Cooper of the College of South 
Carolina, who had made so much difficulty for 
John Adams in 1800, also took up the hatchet. 
Before the assembly of the legislature of 1828, 
it seemed that a great majority of the people 
of the state were ready to repudiate Calhoun. 
McDuffie and Cheves, both former nationalists, 
now repudiated what Calhoun had so long 
stood for. The Vice-President's one redeem- 
ing act had been his deciding vote in the Senate 
in 1827, which defeated the tariff bill of that 

Calhoun's ambition for the presidency was in- 
deed about to encounter rough sailing; his polit- 


ical existence was even in the greatest danger. 
How could he stem the tide ? 

Such a crisis as this had been evident per- 
haps to astute men from the beginning, for he 
had always to reckon upon an alliance of the 
South and West, and the West, in the nature 
of things, must favor a tariff in order to secure 
to the national government the revenue to build 
her highways to eastern markets; besides Ken- 
tucky and Ohio and even Indiana and Illinois 
were not averse to a high tariff on commodities 
which they did not consume, and which was sup- 
posed to secure them a high price for their hides. 
The Clay scheme of a union between the West 
and the North was now as natural as had been 
the similar cooperation of the South and West in 
Jefferson's day. The two sections, however 
friendly, could not work together now that the 
South had come to oppose almost unanimously 
the so-called "American system" which Clay had 
long advocated. 

South Carolina, to make matters worse, was 
hastening along the road which led to revolution 
when the whole country would be against her. 


Her remedy for the tariff was refusal to obey the 
law ; the port of Charleston was to decline to pay 
the customs which the federal law exacted. This 
m.eant war. To prevent this Calhoun cast him- 
self into the breach. He wrote the South Caro- 
lina Exposition of 1828 which the legislature 
adopted as the language of the state without giv- 
ing out the name of the distinguished author. 
The Exposition found a way to nullify national 
law without violating the constitution ! The state, 
all states, had a reserved right to refuse obedience 
to so-called national law^s enacted in violation of 
the national constitution and the state, not the 
federal courts, was to decide when a law was 
unconstitutional ! This was what South Carolina 
desired, for, though her people are and were then 
brave as any in the world, war with the federal 
government was not sought. Meanwhile Cal- 
houn was to do what ''in him lay" to hasten 
Jackson's favorable action on the tariff, while 
the people of the state refrained from all hostile 
movements until he had ample time to move. 
Calhoun was thus the link between Columbia 
and Washington, the only guarantee of peace 


in South Carolina. It was a fearful responsi- 
bility but Calhoun was compelled to assume it; 
yet all his good intentions proved unavailing. The 
right and patriotic course was the one Calhoun 
selected and had this course been followed Cal- 
houn must have succeeded Jackson as president 
and South Carolina would not have risked nulli- 
fication. An evil day it was that broke the 
friendly feeling between the President and the 
Vice-President, and a still more unfortunate one 
when Clay in 1832, declared he would have his 
high tariff increased once more, against "the 
South, the Democratic party, and the devil. "^ 

Calhoun held impetuous South Carolina in tow 
from 1828 to 1832, and this was a feat which not 
only showed the great powder of the man but his 
love for the nation. What he hoped to do was 
to bring congress to a reasonable tariff, say a 
general average of 20%, with which all the South 
would have been pleased and which would have 
been ample protection to Northern manufactures, 
and then, attaining the leadership of the country, 
go on with the great nationalizing work of knit- 
*McMaster: History of the United States, VI, 135. 


ting the South and West together. And in view 
of what the tariff has done for us and of Calhoun's 
unequaled influence and power as shown in after 
years, who will say this was not the correct 
course? It had been the union of the South and 
West which sustained Jefferson's administrations ; 
cooperation of South and West was still the basis 
of the national policy ; and there are those among 
us to-day who look for a solution of our twentieth 
century troubles only from a friendly under- 
standing between these really democratic sections 
of the country. 

But the sweets of high office proved very appe- 
tizing to Jackson. He did not feel so old at the 
end of his term as when he had first been named 
for president by his friend, WilHam B. Lewis, 
in 1823. And when Van Buren, the "boss" of 
New York, who had become almost necessary to 
the Administration, persuaded the New York 
Courier and Enquirer to call for a second term, 
he did not peremptorily decline to be a candidate. 
Calhoun's paper. The National Telegraph, opposed 
at once the New York proposition as premature. 
A newspaper controversy followed which must 


have aroused suspicions in the mind of the Presi- 
dent. In March, 1830, Lewis drafted a petition, 
asking the President to ''stand a second time" and 
sent it to a friend in Pennsylvania. The docu- 
ment came to Washington in due time signed by 
sixty-eight politicians and prominent characters 
with no hint that its origin was not in the Key- 
stone state. The "spontaneous" call from the 
great state of Pennsylvania was soon published in 
the leading papers of the country. Calhoun's 
suspicions were now aroused and he gave out 
word among his friends that the "old hero" must 
be opposed, and the Pennsylvania legislature re- 
fused to endorse unanimously the "spontaneous" 
call. But New York, by the same process of 
diligent cultivation, added the weight of her 
growing numbers to the demand that the Presi- 
dent "sacrifice himself" for the party and the 
country. Calhoun was outclassed. 

Meanwhile, however. Van Buren's friend, 
James A. Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, 
had visited Georgia seeking to pacify William H. 
Crawford, bitter enemy of both Jackson and Cal- 
houn. He learned there that Crawford, whom 


Jackson credited with having sought to have him 
punished for his high-handed conduct in Florida 
in 1 8 19, had not opposed the General on that 
occasion but that Calhoun was the man who had 
done the fatal deed. With evidence of this in his 
possession, Hamilton consulted Lewis. Lewis, 
wise man that he was, kept his information eigh- 
teen months until Jackson had reason to suspect 
the South Carolinian of a "hasty" ambition. 
Then, as though it were only a small matter, he 
asked his chief if he had not known all along that 
Calhoun was his enemy. Astonished at what 
seemed to be true, Jackson ordered the letter, 
which Hamilton had brought back from Georgia 
two years before to be produced. Lewis coached 
Hamilton not to produce the letter but to secure 
one from Crawford direct which should settle 
the question at once. 

Lewis' web was not complete and he held back 
the Georgia evidence. This was in the winter 
of 1829-30. Calhoun was endeavoring to hold 
South Carolina back "while he brought Jackson 
around," and prepared the way for his own suc- 
cession. He stood as yet for protection in 


Pennsylvania and for Internal improvements in 
the West. At this juncture the Peggy O'Neal 
gcandal reached a climax, and all the blame for 
the trouble about Mrs. Eaton, the former bar- 
maid, now wife of Secretary Eaton of the Cabinet, 
was laid to Mrs. Calhoun's charge. Mrs. Eaton's 
reputation in Washington was of the worst; but 
this would have had no political significance if 
she had not suddenly become the wife of a mem- 
ber of the Cabinet. In this new role she must 
either be received in Washington society or be 
"snubbed." Since her husband was a Tennes- 
seean and very intimate with the President, the 
latter alternative was exceedingly dangerous for 
any "Cabinet lady." Jackson was warned early 
of the coming storm; but storms either social or 
otherwise had no terrors for "Old Hickory." He 
decided to break a lance for Mrs. Eaton whom he 
declared to be as pure as fresh-driven snow, and 
woe to any one who opposed him. 

Mrs. Calhoun came from an old Charleston 
family, and any one who has any knowledge of 
the Charleston aristocracy knows that no lady who 
hailed from that proud city would for a moment 


allow a Tennessee backwoods man to dictate to her 
in matters social, even if a husband's political 
fortunes were at stake. Mrs. Calhoun was the 
wife of the Vice-President. She was the most 
popular woman in Washington and her husband 
was the most popular man. If Mrs. Calhoun 
refused to recognize Mrs. Eaton it would be very- 
doubtful whether any other lady in the city would 
"know" her. And Mrs. Calhoun refused to 
recognize Mrs. Eaton and declined to take any 
suggestions, if any were offered, from her dis- 
tinguished husband. The gauntlet was thrown 
down and Jackson hastened to take it up. On 
September lo, 1829, the President summoned a 
cabinet meeting to discuss Mrs. Eaton's case and 
to give his advisers his opinion which was prac- 
tically a command to compel their ladies to visit 
the unwelcome recruit to Washington official life. 
Jackson's commands were for once ignored. 

With Mrs. Calhoun the chief sinner in this 
matter, Calhoun's burdens became too great for 
the ordinary politician to bear — though Calhoun 
was no ordinary politician. The understanding 
about the succession rested upon the most unstable 


foundation and all Calhoun's plans for the future 
depended upon this understanding being carried 
out. It was an understanding much like that 
between Jefferson and Madison or Monroe and 
John Quincy Adams, except that Calhoun, not 
Jackson, was the greater partner. Never has 
there been a political agreement between public 
leaders in this country fraught with more possi- 
bility for good than this, and yet this was broken 
with the utmost disregard of truth and fair 

Nothing shows more clearly the reality of this 
agreement than the personnel of the Cabinet. 
The Vice-President had named three members, 
Ingham, the Secretary of the Treasury, Branch, 
of the Navy, and Berrien, an anti-Crawford man 
from Georgia, Attorney-General. The remaining 
members. Van Buren, Eaton and Barry, the latter 
a particular enemy of Henry Clay, were attached 
to the President. The abler men, except Van 
Buren, were followers of Calhoun; and the great 
Treasury Department, with its army of important 
subordinates and many bank officials throughout 
the country, was held by his most intimate friend. 


Under ordinary circumstances the Vice-President 
must have succeeded and this prospect was fully 
understood in South Carolina where the angry 
leaders were able to hold even themselves in 

It was under this high pressure that Calhoun 
attended the famous dinner on Jefferson's birth- 
day, April 13, 1830, and there heard the famous 
defiance from his chief which foreboded a com- 
plete break-up in the Administration. Jackson 
offered the toast: ''Our Federal Union: It must 
be preserved." Everyone saw that the shaft was 
aimed at the Vice-President and no one realized 
its significance more fully than the ambitious 
Carolinian. But on May i, the Crawford letter, 
applied for six months before, was received. It 
purported to give a faithful account of what 
transpired in the Monroe cabinet meeting of 
1 8 18 in which Calhoun criticized Jackson's con- 
duct in Florida. The President demanded an 
explanation of the "perfidy" of having opposed 
his interests. Jackson could not understand how 
any man could justly criticize any of his acts 
and he could not appreciate the honest anH 


faithful support which Calhoun had later given 
him. Crawford, who had long been a bitter 
enemy of the South CaroHna leader, had dealt 
this fatal blow, for with the President's opposi- 
tion, there could be no chance for him to reach 
the White House in years to come. When the 
breach was complete Calhoun's friends resigned 
from the Cabinet, his paper, the Telegraph, was 
deprived of the support of the Administration 
and another organ, the Globe, was a little later 
established. Early in 183 1 the Administration 
which Calhoun had done so much to bring into 
existence and from which he had hoped so much, 
was rent asunder and the public knew that Cal- 
houn and his friends were banished from court 
and in the highest disfavor. It was generally 
thought that the Peggy O'Neal affair had been 
the cause. Perhaps the first cause of the break 
had been the changed attitude of the President on 
the question of the succession. This change had 
been brought about by the intrigues of Lewis and 
Van Buren as well as by the love of power whicH 
grew upon Jackson with the passing of the years. 
It was already arranged that he was to have 


another term, that Van Buren was to succeed 
with two terms after which Benton of Missouri 
was to come in for eight years! The combina- 
tion between the South and West which Jack- 
son represented was not to be followed by a return 
of Southern men to the presidency but of North- 
ern politicians who had been out of office too long 
already. The idea was to hold the West and the 
middle states together and destroy all chance of 
Clay's success. Van Buren was the only man 
who could carry on the work after 1837, for he 
controlled New York and would control Pennsyl- 
vania if a sufficiently liberal tariff allowance could 
be offered. It was natural therefore for Jackson 
to hate Nullification and denounce the state which 
he thought had given him his birth. 

Calhoun in 1831, like Jefferson in 1798, pre- 
sided over the Senate and from this throne of 
power he could checkmate and harass the head- 
strong President who had taken the bit in his teeth. 
Clay was returned to the Senate, after the sharpest 
fight of his life, in 1831, and while the imperious 
Kentuckian could not love the imperious Carolin- 
ian, both had good reason to loathe the * 'upstart 


and arrant martinet" of the White House. Before 
Clay's return to Washington in December, 1831, 
he had visited the Southwest and in New Orleans, 
Natchez, Memphis, he was received with an en- 
thusiasm, an outpouring of the popular applause 
which convinced him that neither Jackson nor 
Calhoun was the master in that region. Later he 
received ovations in Ohio and Pennsylvania which 
remind the student of the great popular demon- 
strations which have been given in recent years 
to Bryan and Roosevelt. Clay entered the Senate 
in 1 83 1, convinced that nothing could prevent his 
election to the presidency the following autumn. 
Calhoun had watched the lower South with less 
scrutiny than South Carolina. Everywhere op- 
position to the tariff was growing, becoming 
almost fanatical in many of the older and more 
populous sections. At Hampden Sidney College, 
Virginia, the students resolved unanimously not 
to wear the "protected" clothing of the North 
and on commencement occasions in South Caro- 
lina and Georgia, men like George McDuffie 
appeared in homespun while their negro valets 
wore discarded broadcloth! Was Calhoun to be 


blamed if he, too, counted on the support of most 
Southern states? Had not the legislatures of 
every state from the Potomac to the Mississippi 
declared the tariff of 1828 both outrageous and 
contrary to the intentions of the founders of the 
republic? Calhoun thought that when he chose 
to make the issue the President and not himself 
would find public sympathy painfully lacking. 
And if Clay should join him what might not be 
done to bring Jackson to his senses. 

Still Calhoun was a nationalist. He did not 
desire to see the issue made, least of all a clash of 
arms between the South which he thought would 
be united and the North which might follow an 
irate President. Hence the effort to bring Clay 
to an agreement that the tariff should be revised 
downward. The Kentucky leader was infatu- 
ated; he was certain that a high tariff was what 
the country wanted and that Clay was the most 
popular man in the nation. The great, uproarous 
assemblages which greeted him everywhere he 
went had intoxicated him. No man has ever 
been more certain of anything not actually real- 
ized than was he that Clay would be the next 


president and that Andrew Jackson would retire 
to Tennessee in 1833 a wiser if a sadder man. 

Calhoun's suggestion that an alliance should be 
struck, whereby the tariff should go and with it 
the common enemy, was spurned. The tariff with 
all its unpopularity was boldly made an issue in 

1832, though the question of whether the national 
bank should be re-chartered was raised by the 
President and welcomed by Clay. 

In the spring of 1832 Calhoun, convinced that 
the North was joined to its idols and that there 
was no chance for an "adjustment of the tariff," 
turned all his great abilities to the "interposition" 
which he had outlined in 1828 and which South 
Carolina had been panting to apply. It is unnec- 
essary here to outline the revolutionary course of 
that impetuous state during the years of 1832 and 

1833. The program which Calhoun had sent to 
the legislature four years before in strictest secrecy 
had been made known as his, and a great majority 
of the people accepted the new doctrine without 
stopping to wonder at the amazing change of 
front of its author. What Calhoun sought in 
1832 and 1833 was absolute unanimity in his 



state. In this he failed though his majority was 
overwhelming and from this time till his death 
the state was to him a willing slave, a pocket 
borough more unique than that of Henry Clay in 

What amazed and chagrined Calhoun after the 
test of Nullification had been applied, was the 
failure of the South to respond. Not one state 
endorsed the new doctrine though Virginia dallied 
long with the dangerous thing. But if Calhoun 
was bitterly disappointed at the failure of the 
South to rise against the tariff. Clay was sore 
distressed to find that all the enthusiasm of the 
great popular gatherings which he aroused was 
only froth. Jackson was reelected by a majority 
as unexpected as it was unprecedented. In 
Louisiana the Clay electors were beaten two to 
one and in Mississippi where he had spoken to 
"acres of people" no votes at all were registered 
for him. Jackson's majority over both Clay and 
Wirt, who polled almost as many votes as the 
Kentuckian, was more than 150,000! The "old 
hero" was overflowing with joy when congress 
reassembled. The people had punished and 


humbled Clay; he would dispatch Calhoun in the 
shortest order. Though he had been something 
of a nullifier in times past he was no nullifier when 
Calhoun was in that camp. 

South Carolina sent her idol to Washington in 
December, 1832, much after the fashion of the 
great German Reformer on his way to Worms 
in 1 52 1. Escorts of devoted followers saw him 
safe across the border where loyal North Caro- 
linians hailed him as a second Luther ; in southern 
Virginia John Randolph sent him his dying 
blessing. But in Washington the atmosphere 
was sadly lacking in warmth and men peered at 
Calhoun with the sort of curiosity with which they 
greet great men whose course is thought to lead 
to ruin, perhaps ignominious death. Clay came on 
late, as well he might, after the awful blow of the 
preceding November. He had lost his dictatorial 
air; his short and ugly saying of the previous 
session "the South, the Democratic party and the 
devil" had lost its force. Common men who 
looked on that winter in Washington might well 
have wondered whose plight was the worse, that 
of Calhoun with his state at his heels or Clay 


repudiated by the nation in a way unknown to 
American politics. 

Instead of the quiet succession to the presidency 
which Jackson and his friends had promised him 
in 1828, Calhoun was now threatened with a trial 
for treason and his state was put under the ban of 
the empire. But Jackson felt the justice of the 
cotton growers' complaint against the tariff and 
he prepared to sweeten the bitter pill which he 
was rnaking for South Carolina in the form of 
the famous Force bill. The tariff was to be re- 
duced from an average of about forty per cent to 
twenty-five per cent. When Clay saw what was 
about to happen he seized the reins of legislation 
and "put through" the Senate in almost indecent 
haste the famous Tariff Reform bill of 1833, ac- 
complishing with the aid of Webster and without 
great hostility from the protected interests, the 
same result the President was about to attain. 
A combination of the friends of Clay, Calhoun 
and Webster, who was not, however, wholly com- 
mitted, had been effected and the sturdy old soldier 
in the White House who had just been reelected 
with an unprecedented majority was powerless 



either to punish Calhoun and South CaroHna or 
reduce the tariff. The Force bill was passed, 
but South Carolina had already taken steps to 
avert the blow which was really not much of a 
blow. Calhoun had won ; by his threatened inter- 
vention the nation had been brought to terms ; the 
greatest and the extremest protectionist in the 
country had revised his own defiant tariff of a 
year before and the manufacturers themselves 
had yielded! 

It has been customary in American history- 
writing to treat Calhoun from 1833 to his death 
in 1850, as an arch-conspirator, seeking the over- 
throw of the government which he served and 
upon which he had bestowed the best years of his 
life. I am constrained to view him differently. 
Calhoun was a nationalist at heart to the day of 
his death and in the intimacy of private corre- 
spondence he spoke of a severed nation "bleeding 
at every pore" — a state of things which he said 
he could not think of encouraging.^ What he 

* Jameson, J. R, Correspondence of John C. Calhoun,, 
Am. Hist. Asso. Reports 1899, Vol. II, 391 • 


was striving for during the last seventeen years 
of his life was the building of a "solid" South 
which should follow his teaching implicitly and 
which, cast into the scales of national politics, 
would decide all great questions in its favor. And 
it cannot be doubted that he expected to be ele- 
vated to the presidency as a natural result — a 
position which he coveted as warmly as did Henry 
Glay himself. It was not his aim to break up 
the Union but to dominate it. 

His method of uniting the people of the South 
was to show them that without such union the 
greatest interest of their section, slavery, was 
doomed. Calhoun sought to weld together his 
people on a basis of economic interest just as 
Clay had sought to build a "solid" North on the 
basis of a high tariff. On this subject parties 
had ceased to differ in large sections of the North. 
Rhode Island Democrats were "tariff" Demo- 
crats; Pennsylvania made protection a sine qua 
non of cooperation with the party of Jackson; 
Kentucky, Ohio and the Northwest voted solidly 
for that policy of the nation which was thought 
to operate in their favor. The South, regardless 


of party lines, had come to regard slavery as 
either a good thing or an evil which could not, 
and ought not, to be eradicated ; Whigs vied with 
Democrats in asseverating their loyalty to the 
"peculiar institution/' Slavery was uglier in 
outward appearance than protection, but in prin- 
ciple negro servitude and a protective tariff were 
alike — each meant the exploitation of the weaker 
and more ignorant classes of society by the 
wealthier and more intelligent. As a matter of 
morals there was no difference between the 
demand of the Western Reserve that a prohibi- 
tive tariff in favor of their wool be maintained 
by the federal government and that of South 
Carolina that negro slavery should be forever 
guaranteed. A high tariff on wool compelled 
the poor white man to give his labor to others 
without recompense; slavery compelled the negro 
to work for his master without reward. 

While Calhoun never yielded a hair's breadthi 
on his main program — unity of the slave states — 
he never failed to reckon upon the support of the 
growing Northwest where slavery was not un- 
popular and where hatred and fear of the free 


negro had become a sort of mania. In Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois and Iowa he had ardent and able 
followers, while half the senators from this region 
at the time of his death were then or had been 
owners of negro slaves. With a following, 
young, ardent and growing, the great South Caro- 
linian laid down his program of national protec- 
tion to slavery as a constitutional guarantee and 
on this point it will hardly be denied that he read 
the great document aright. The idea that slav- 
ery was a good thing which the churches ought 
to defend came easy to him after reading Pro- 
fessor Thomas R. Dew's famous pamphlet of the 
year 1832.^ 

Dew was the ablest publicist in Virginia, and 
one of the first in the country, a teacher of polit- 
ical science in William and Mary College, who 
had spent years in study and travel in Europe, 
especially in Germany where he had come 
into touch with the greatest thinkers of the 
time. He ridiculed the ideas of Jefferson about 
human equality, slavery and emancipation and he 
called Virginia's attention to the great advantage 

*Dew, Thomas R., 'Review of the Debates of the 
Virginia Legislature, 1831-1832, Richmond, Va., 1832. 


of raising negroes for the ever-widening market 
in the lower South. Virginia should become a 
great slave-producing state. In this he had been 
ably seconded by the late governor, William B. 
Giles, who in 1829 published similar doctrines 
though not in the philosophical and unanswerable 
manner of Dew. 

Calhoun had prided himself on being a follower 
of the great Jefferson and he had sought in 1833 
to show that Nullification emanated from that 
revered authority. Jackson on the other hand 
wrote Nathaniel Macon in 1833 that he would 
coerce South Carolina in the name of the Sage 
of Monticello, and the rank and file of the Jackson 
democracy was certainly Jeffersonian in most of 
the items of their faith. Calhoun thought, or 
convinced himself, that Dew was right, that he 
spoke for the property holding classes in the 
South and that his arguments must become classic 
in a land teeming with slaves whose value was 
enhancing with each passing year. He accepted 
the teachings of the Williamsburg professor 
and ever after preached the same doctrine; but 
he did not think it necessary to undertake to 


show that Jefferson was antiquated or unworthy 
of serious attention on the great question. Cal- 
houn was still a politician and he knew full well 
the value of a great name. 

When Van Buren came to the presidency in 
1837, it was not by the votes of the West, nor 
even of Tennessee, but of the East, New York, 
Pennsylvania and Virginia, in the main; Van 
Buren, though the political child of Old Hickory, 
was a conservative; he understood better than 
Jackson the meaning of property and a fixed social 
order. Calhoun saw this and though he hated 
the New York "magician" he extended him a 
helping hand against Clay and Webster and 
sought to secure the support of the administration 
for the Democratic nomination in 1844. 

Having been shipwrecked as a presidential can- 
didate in 1 83 1, he had turned to South Carolina 
to "rebuild his fences" and hold the state back 
from its headlong course on the road to secession. 
In this he succeeded and after banishing from the 
community irreconcilables like William Smith 
and Randall Hunt, he became easily the one great 
figure — the personification of the hotspur state. 


Regarding the tariff as a settled question, he 
turned in 1837 to the greater problem of negro 
slavery. The people of his state had never pro- 
nounced "the institution" an evil ; there were men 
in Charleston who wrote pamphlets as early as 
1803, defending it as a moral and religious 
arrangement. In Georgia the prevalent idea was 
that the African slave trade ought not to have 
been anathematized as piracy in 1819.^ Now that 
Alabama and Mississippi were requiring slaves in 
ever-increasing numbers, Virginia had repented 
of her earlier heresy and the business of raising 
negroes for the southern market was not frowned 

Calhoun ,§aw the full possibilities of the new 
situation. He would unite the whole South as 
he had already united the people of South Car- 
olina. He once said that he would rather have 
the vote of Virginia than that of all the other 

^Ames, H. V., State Documents on Federal Relations, 
for reprint of Gov. Troup's Messages on the subject, 1825. 

' Gov. W. B. Giles in his collection of essays, documents 
published in 1829; Dew's book already referred to and 
many pamphlets published in 1832-1833 show this con- 


Southern states. What he meant was, that if 
Virginia and South Carolina came into close 
affiliation in party and national politics, the other 
Southern states would soon follow, and it can 
hardly be doubted that if the Virginia Democrats 
had rallied to him in 1843 ^^ would have reached 
the White House in 1845. 

The aim then of Calhoun after 1837, when the 
"old hero" retired, was to conciliate the Jackson 
men, the people of the growing Northwest, to 
win the approval of Van Buren and to reach the 
great goal. Van Buren dallied for a while with 
the great Nullifier; but the panicky times con- 
tinued so far into the presidential quadrennium 
and Thomas Ritchie, editor of the Richmond 
Enquirer, who usually held the Democratic scepter 
in the Old Dominion, was so timid about Cal- 
houn's chances that no progress could be made 
with the premature "boom." 

The election of 1840 was a reaction In favor of 
the West and of the Jackson regime, though the 
Whigs had been the engineers of the movement. 
The West rose up in its might and struck down 
the man whom "the money kings" of the East had 


put into the presidency. Tennessee and Kentucky 
and every other Mississippi valley state but one, 
gave great majorities to William Henry Harrison, 
the man who drank hard cider and wore a coon- 
skin cap. Calhoun delivered the vote of his little 
state to the "arch-conspirator," Van Buren, and 
the Old Dominion stood fast by her Democratic 
guns — a result which augured well for Calhoun's 
plan of securing the nomination from the party 
of Old Hickory in 1844. 

The little, but growing, circle of the devotees 
of the South Carolinian realized before the vote 
was counted in the Senate in 1841 that he was 
the "logical candidate" of the South and the 
South would surely name the choice of the party. 
The new president was not a man of promise, he 
was inexperienced in the great American game 
and besides he was an old man who could not — 
unless he turned out, like Jackson, to grow 
younger with the increasing weight of respon- 
sibility — expect a second term. Clay was the 
patron of the President and this injured rather 
than aided him. From 1841 to 1843 the little 
South Carolina party waged a campaign for the 


Democratic nomination in 1844 which Calhoun 
himself directed and for which he wrote a 
biography of himself, published and sold, how- 
ever, as the work of R. M. T. Hunter. He pre- 
pared newspaper editorials which were sent to his 
friends in the Northwest, and his admirers like 
Robert Winthrop and Abbott Lawrence of Mas- 
sachusetts, stood ready to sustain his cause with 
the ever-necessary funds. He did not think the 
Whigs could either hold together or retain the 
"log-cabin" popularity which had been so lavishly 

It was a pathetic figure which Calhoun pre- 
sented to his friends and to the well-informed in 
general ; he was probably the cleanest man in pub- 
lic life, he hated the game of politics with its 
subtleties and its pitfalls and he had sworn to 
himself that if ever he came to power he would 
apply the axe to the great tree of patronage and 
affiliated corruption; he knew the workings of 
the American government better than any of his 
contemporaries and he appreciated fully the real 

* Jameson: Correspondence of John C. Calhoun, 472, 




needs of the three great sections of the country 
and was wilHng to "give and take" if men would 
only leave his favorite property, negro slaves, 
alone. For such a man to be weaving the skein 
of politics and sowing the seeds of political in- 
trigue, in short, to be compelled to court small 
politicians and drive hard bargains with the sel- 
fish business interests while he himself grew, both 
consciously and unconsciously, to be a champion 
of the greatest "interest" of the time, was and 
still is, a subject of sympathy and interest. I 
beheve that if he had been permitted this time to 
control the machinery of the party with which he 
was ready to ally himself and to take the presi- 
dent's chair in 1845, we should have, as historians, 
to record a different story from that which now 
occupies our pages, and that both the Texas and 
the Oregon questions would have been settled 
peaceably and somewhat to the satisfaction of the 
angry and contending groups of politicians and 
their constituents. 

But Calhoun had passed the buoyant period of 
life, and he had done and said so much that poli- 
ticians like Ritchie and the able intriguer, Robert 


J. Walker of Mississippi, Southern men though 
they were, feared to commit to him the baton of 
leadership; they thought Calhoun's nomination 
would surely mean Clay's election, the worst 
thing, in their minds and Calhoun's, which could 
possibly happen. He could not win their sup- 
port and reluctantly he withdrew from the one- 
sided race and entered Tyler's cabinet only to 
plan the more industriously for the nomination 
in 1848. Though Von Hoist says that he was 
simply intriguing for slavery and Texas. 

To me this latter seems an untenable view. 
He had favored annexation but not ardently ; the 
governor of South Carolina as late as November, 
1836, had denounced the so-called Texas scheme 
and George McDuffie can hardly be supposed to 
have been ill informed as to Calhoun's wishes.^ 
Calhoun went into Tyler's cabinet to guide an 
administration which sorely needed his strong 
hand and towering reputation and, as has been 
said, to '*shape things" for his own nomination 
in 1848. That he "pushed" the annexation 
program which was almost completed when he 
*Niles Register^ December 10, 1836. 


took up his portfolio, cannot be doubted; but it 
proves nothing. What was equally important 
and more significant as to his own aims and pur- 
poses was his prompt overture to Old Hickory- 
through A. J. Donelson. The letter of the great 
Secretary to Donelson in September, 1844^ and 
those of Calhoun's friends like James Gadsden of 
January, 1844,^ show that he and they felt that 
his entry into Tyler's cabinet was to save the 
Democratic party and to bring about the old 
alliance between South and West which had 
promised him so much in 1828. It required even 
more of sacrifice on his part to invite Jackson's 
support and cooperation in 1844 than it had to 
approach Van Buren in 1837, but he was equal to 
the occasion. Not only did he seek to bring his 
faction of the party into line with the western 
faction which Benton fairly represented at that 
time, but he took such part in the Polk and Dal- 
las campaign as justly to entitle him to much of 
the honor of the victory which followed. His 

* Jameson, J. R, Corresp. of J. C. Calhoun. Am. Hist. 
Rep. of '99, II, 614. 

'Ibid, 916. 


ardent South Carolinians he held In check with 
a steady hand ;^ he sought allies in New England 
where there was always a very considerable group 
of Calhoun admirers and he looked steadily to 
the Northwest where the demand for the annex- 
ation of Oregon was almost as strong as that in 
the South for Texas. His immediate aim was to 
deliver a final and crushing blow to Clay " [who] 
had done much to distract the South and to keep 
the West out of its true position. "^ He was 
almost certain, as early as September 17, that 
Clay would be defeated and Polk elected; "it 
will be the last of Clay" he had said, and the 
result justified the prophecy. 

When the work was done and Polk, "the un- 
known," came on to Washington for the inaugu- 
ration, no overture was made to the Carolinian 
to remain at the national council board, an over- 
sight which was intentional and which Calhoun 
must have regarded as proof that Jackson had 

^Jameson, Corresp. 616, "The excitement in a portion of 
Carolina to which you refer has gradually subsided, and will 
give no further trouble. I had to act with great delicacy, 
but at the same time firmness in relation to it" ; also, ibid, 

* Jameson, Corresp. 617. 



resisted his kindly attentions of the preceding au- 
tumn, for was not the new president a protege of 
Old Hickory and did he not come directly from 
the Hermitage? But Polk may well have feared 
to sit down in cabinet meetings with a man who 
towered above him quite as much as above Tyler 
and to whom a large element of the South would 
look as the governor of the country. Gratitude 
is not a necessary element in the make-up of a 
public man, certainly it was not to Polk in this 
case. Calhoun who had done so much to secure 
Polk his high post and great opportunity was al- 
most snubbed, so curtly was he pushed aside, and 
the reader of the annals of the time cannot but 
sympathize with his note to his daughter wherein 
he says, "it was scarcely in the power of Mr. Polk 
to treat me badly. "^ 

The old hound never hears the horn but he 
pricks up his ears, and Calhoun on his way home, 
heard with keen pleasure a toast, offered at a din- 
ner in his honor at Richmond by Ritchie, himself, 
in which he was addressed as "the next president 
* Jameson, Corresp., 656. 


of the United States."^ How many times had 
he not heard words like these in South Carolina 
and the lower South; but never before from the 
Virginia king-maker. He was quick to note the 
incident and to inform his favorite daughter of 
the changed attitude of Ritchie who was then 
about to take up his new duties as editor of the 
Washington Union, the administration organ. 

The leaders of opinion in the Northwest, men 
like Douglas of Illinois and the Dodges of Iowa 
and Wisconsin, had planned a great Mississippi 
valley convention which was to meet in Memphis 
in November, 1845. The Southern states and 
their railway builders were invited to attend. 
General James Gadsden of South Carolina, Major 
Tait of Alabama, both railroad presidents, and 
the industrial leaders generally were interested in 
the meeting. The Southerners were particularly 
concerned with expanding their transportation 
facilities northwestward, while the upper Missis- 
sippi states were already looking toward the 
Pacific. By combining these groups of interests 
the region which had dominated the country dur- 
*Ibid, 650. 


ing the Jackson "reign" would come again to 
power; congress could be induced to make land 
grants to new railroad ventures and the post- 
master general would give bonuses for carrying 
the mails. All this would hasten Western state- 
making and permanently fix the power of the 
proposed Southern-Western alliance. The one 
great interest of the South, cotton growing, 
would be advanced and its twin sister, slavery, 
the more firmly established, for the growing trade 
between the farmers of the Ohio and the upper 
Mississippi valleys and the plantations of the 
South would tie the two sections together. 

Under these circumstances it is not surprising 
that we find Calhoun presiding over the Memphis 
convention. Indeed so full of the new or, with 
him, old program and Its probable consequences 
had he become that he surpassed the utmost ex- 
pectations of the industrial promoters of the West 
by commending to the convention and to the 
country, in his carefully prepared address,^ a re- 
turn to the era and the idea of internal improve- 
ments which he had discarded and denounced a 
*Cralle, R. K., Works of Calhoun, V. 293-311. 


dozen years before. To the new railroad ven- 
tures within state boundaries he would have the 
federal government guarantee long term mail con- 
tracts at rates above the accustomed price, and free 
iron for construction purposes which would have 
amounted to a bonus of $2,000 a mile, while to 
those within the territories he was not opposed 
to direct government grants. Canal builders and 
cities like Chicago and Louisville where good 
harbor facilities were wanted should receive 
assistance on the ground that the Mississippi and 
its tributaries were "inland seas" which might be 
improved under the powers of the constitution 
which allowed the harbors of the Atlantic and 
Gulf coasts to draw large sums from the national 
strong box. The superficial student of Calhoun's 
speeches and teachings between 1833 and 1845 
may be surprised at this apparent desertion of his 
national policy; not so with him who reads be- 
tween the lines and who fully comprehends the 
purposes and the motives of the man. He is now 
as always, a nationalist, if only the politicians will 
allow, but a nationalist who, like most, if not all, 
other leaders in American public life, demanded 


first protection to his constituents. The first 
duty of Webster in congress when a young man 
was to champion the cause of New England free 
traders who made up the majority of his constit- 
uents; but in 1828, when his constituents had 
become manufacturers, he made quite an able 
defense of the cause of protection and two years 
later he was the author of a doctrine of "new 
nationality'' since the nation was the only power 
which could give protection ; and finally when his 
ambition to be president had become as over- 
powering as Calhoun's he could make eloquent 
periods in defense of the Union and of slavery. 
Calhoun's course was not different: he was a 
nationalist when South Carolina adhered to the 
same view, he became a particularist when South 
Carolina's interests were endangered; he was al- 
ways a pro-slavery man because both his state 
and his section were pro-slavery. 

But his "defection" at Memphis, his "inland 
seas" doctrines gave smaller men in the South 
much trouble; men who see only the small space 
"before their noses" thought that he had deserted 
the South, that he was granting the latitudinarian 


doctrine whicti would certainly lead to national 
interference with slavery. Jefferson Davis re- 
fused to apologize for or to defend the new idea^ 
though he later learned to plan great combinations 
like that which underlay the Memphis address. 
Calhoun's followers labored under the blighting 
inability of not being able to see that twice two 
make four, and they began their campaign of 
"doubts and fears'* which have so often defeated 
the larger planning of the larger men of the re- 
public. The administration could not understand 
Calhoun except that Polk knew that he desired 
the presidency in 1848; Thomas Ritchie was 
now, only six months after the Richmond toast, 
certain that the Democracy would be defeated if 
it ventured such a program and such a nomina- 
tion; South Carolina, under the influence of the 
epigones of nullification, protested that even "the 
prophet" had gone astray. There was probably 
never a chance for Calhoun after the break with 
Jackson, but Calhoun could not so understand the 
signs of the time. His very virtues were weights 

* Davis, Mrs. Jefferson, Memoirs of Jefferson Davis, 
211-213; Dodd, W. E., Life of Jefferson Davis, 68. 


about his feet ; small men are offended at the very- 
presence of greatness. Besides, Calhoun had per- 
mitted himself to be blinded by the love of prop- 
erty rights, not of property, for never was there 
a less avaricious statesman. He had uncon- 
sciously become a representative of the "inter- 
ests," a reactionary to whom the chief value of 
the Constitution consisted in its guarantee of 
property against the aggressions of democracy 
and the enthusiasm of the younger generation of 
Americans on behalf of human rights and per- 
sonal liberty. Returning from his visit to the 
Southwest, he wrote his daughter that every- 
where he went the people flocked to see and hear 
him. The crowds were even greater than those 
which had greeted the "General" on his last tour 
and this seemed to give him much comfort.^ 
When he reached South Carolina it was generally 
understood that he had retired to his plantation 
at Fort Hill in the beautiful up-country region to 
await the call of his party to enter upon the presi- 
dential canvass as standard-bearer in 1848. 
But the coming war with Mexico was the talk 
* Jameson, Corresp. 674. 


everywhere, and Polk, in his first annual message, 
seemed to court a conflict with England as well. 
In other words, Polk took the recent platform of 
his party calling for "all Texas and all Oregon" 
seriously. He was a simple, honest man who be- 
lieved in the creed he professed. Calhoun was 
astounded at such simplicity ; he had thought the 
preelection talk was intended only to win votes. 
Not only had the President come out for "all 
Oregon or fight" but congress began its deliber- 
ations with resolutions to give England notice of 
the American intentions which Calhoun said 
would surely bring war.^ 

Feeling that the country was at the threshold 
of a great crisis, he indicated, and he had only to 
indicate, that he would accept another term in 
the United States Senate. On his way to Wash- 
ington, the London Times hailed him as the friend 
of peace and the New York Journal of Commerce 
thought he would be the savior of his country. 
The head of Tammany Hall wrote that "J. C. 
Calhoun needs but to stand still and as sure as 
the day comes, so sure will '49 see him where his 
*Ibid, 674. 


deserts long since should have placed him."^ 
Even the American minister to England wrote 
him in detail about the state of politics there in 
order that he might save the country in spite of 
the President. Calhoun's friends were sounding 
public opinion everywhere and informing him 
daily that he would certainly be the next presi- 
dent, though one group of them urged him to 
stand with Polk and for the war, while the other 
urged the "masterly inactivity" which should win 
without war both Texas and Oregon. The latter 
gained his ear, and his attitude^ was fixed. If 
ever Calhoun had reason to think himself infal- 
lible, it was at this time when all the world was 
pronouncing him the great statesman, the great 
Calhoun ! It was the last time in his long career 
that he saw the highest prize in America glitter- 
ing before him. 

Calhoun stood with the South on the Oregon 
question, 1. e. he was a moderate. His position 
was a deciding factor in the compromise which 
fixed the boundary at the 49th parallel and he 

* Letter of Fernando Wood in Jameson, Corresp. 1065-67. 

'Jameson, Corresp., 1058-60. 


received the thanks of conservative men in all 
sections regardless of party affiliations.^ He 
thought that he had prevented war with England 
and there is much reason to agree with him. 
In this he received the hearty endorsement of 
most people of the South, too, where a war 
on behalf of the far-off Oregon country was 
certainly not desired. But when the adminis- 
tration forced hostilities with Mexico he de- 
nounced the President's program and declared 
that Polk did not desire a peaceful solution of 
the Texas problem. In fact, he saw early what 
direction the leaders of the party were taking, 
namely, national aggrandizement at the expense 
of Mexico, and he foretold the ruin that such a 
policy would bring upon the slavery interest 
whose champions were headlong leaders of what 
may properly be called the imperialistic wing of 
the Democratic party. All of Mexico, not all of 
Oregon, is what men like Jefferson Davis desired ; 
and tw^o years had not passed before they were 
planning a Panama canal, an expanding commerce 

*A fair illustration is the letter of Edward Everett, 
Jameson, Corresp. 1080-81. 



with the Orient, and talking of the absorption of 
the ill-governed land of the Montezutnas — "an 
ocean-bound republic" was their cry. It was the 
swelling ambition of the lower South which Polk 
allowed to prevail and which men like Lewis Cass 
and Senator Allen of Ohio were only too glad to 
encourage in the hope that they might succeed to 
the post which was to be denied Calhoun. 

After a year of war, the administration became 
uneasy about compelling Mexico to cede New 
Mexico and California in time to face the next 
general election with the best of all arguments, 
success, and the military committee of the Senate 
headed by Cass brought in the plan which became 
known to the country as the "Ten Regiments" 
bill. Cass asked for ten thousand regulars and 
thirty millions of dollars with which to accom- 
plish the task. The growing purpose of Robert 
J. Walker, Secretary of the Treasury, Jefferson 
Davis and others, was to take over all Mexico,^ 
though this was not openly declared in the Senate 
discussions. Viewing the whole Southern pro- 
gram now with alarm, Calhoun threw the weight 

* Bourne, E. G., American Historical Review, V, 491. 


of his influence against the scheme and defeated 
it. The Southern imperialists could not under- 
stand him ; they were angry, but could not safely 
show it. Was not the South to be the chief bene- 
ficiary of annexation and was not Calhoun the 
very incarnation of Southern purpose and ambi- 
tion? Calhoun had been courted by the Presl- 
dent,^ urged by the war party and stimulated by 
the promise of support for his campaign for the 
Democratic nomination in 1848. It availed noth- 
ing; he not only spoke against the measure but 
called attention of the country to the danger- 
ous policy^ of the Polk administration. 

While his slender chances for the nomination 
had been thus thrown away during the sessions 
of 1845-46 and 1846-47, the Wilmot proviso, a 
"rider" attached to the Two Million bill of 1846, 
forever forbidding slavery in the territory about 
to be acquired from Mexico, became the burning 
issue. Wilmot was a weak unimportant member 
of the House, but he presented a test question 
which set the groups in the Democratic party by 

^The Polk Diary, II, 282— on. 

' Works, IV, 303-327, for speech in full. 


the ears in a way which augured ill for both the 
dominant party and for the country. Cass, who 
was playing fast and loose for the succession and 
who had the best claims on the imperialist wing 
of his party, at first supported the proviso which 
he later pronounced unconstitutional ; Benton who 
felt that the whole Texas-Oregon policy was his 
"thunder" and that It had been stolen by the 
Southerners at Baltimore, was disposed to favor 
the idea if for no other purpose than to injure 
Calhoun whose schemes for the support of the 
Northwest were already giving him trouble in 
Missouri; the President thought the move only 
the blunder of an innocent member of congress, 
whom he sent for and persuaded to recede from 
his position.^ But to Calhoun it was a challenge 
which he took up at once and which threw him 
and all his followers into hysteria. He watched 
the moves of the "Wilmot men" and the grow- 
ing favor they received in the Northwest during 
the session of congress which closed in March, 
1847. A^^ when he returned to South Carolina 
he was greeted by an immense throng of people 
^Polk's Diary, II, 289. 


who regarded the Wilmot restriction as a declara- 
tion of war against slavery and the South. In 
an address which he delivered in Charleston on 
March 9, 1847/ he returned to his radical partic- 
ularism of 1832. Any interference with slavery 
in any of the territories should be prohibited by 
congress whose business it was to protect prop- 
erty, and negro slaves were nothing else. If 
congress refused the protection which the Consti- 
tution promised, the South must defend herself. 
This is in brief the idea which went out to the 
country from Charleston. Southern papers re- 
printed his words as coming from a seer; both 
Whig and Democratic journals vied with each 
other in the race to radicalism on this subject — 
a radicalism on behalf of property rights, a reac- 
tion from those nobler ideas of the South which 
had given Jefferson his fame and which in a way 
animated Jackson. Virginia declared in her leg- 
islature of the ensuing autumn that she would go 
to war rather than see the Wilmot proviso become 
law. The people of Mississippi assembled in 
mass meetings, and regardless of party align- 

* Jameson, Corresp., 719; Works IV, 382. 


ments, took steps toward secession. South Caro- 
lina, under the same leadership which had pro- 
duced the nullification movement fifteen years 
before, rode upon the crest of the new storm. 
Thus far was loyalty to property ideals carrying 
a noble people and one of the ablest leaders the 
nation has ever produced. Calhoun, the nation- 
alist, who had less than two years before planned 
at Memphis with the Chicago business men and 
the northwestern politicians a movement like 
that which had made him a great figure In 1816, 
was now falling back behind his second line of 
defense — slavery and the monopoly rights which 
its protagonists enjoyed. From 1847 to the day 
of his death in 1850, he strove as he had never 
striven before to unite the people of the South 
on the one issue upon which unity was ominous. 
The treaty with Mexico which fixed the status 
in the union of California, New Mexico, and 
Texas, was a sort of title deed which Polk labored 
so long and faithfully to present to the country at 
the close of his administration. The country 
accepted the gift with thanks but repudiated the 
giver. Neither Polk nor any other member of 


his party possessed the confidence of the nation in 
a sufficient degree to secure the presidency. Cal- 
houn, who had warned the imperiahsts, had now 
no hope for high promotion, and he gave all his 
strength to the task of winning and holding the 
new areas for the South and for slavery although 
he had confessed to Polk in 1846^ that slavery 
could never be maintained in the new region. 
What he contended for was the shadow of a vic- 
tory just as the Wilmot proviso men were doing, 
both parties acknowledging that it was a victory, 
not practical results, which they had in view, a 
fact which Webster might have offered in justi- 
fication of his famous debacle of March 7, 1850. 
It was to Calhoun a most painful situation, but 
one for which he was more responsible than any 
other man. He marshalled his forces for the 
conflict like the great general he was. Jefferson 
Davis and James M. Mason were his lieutenants 
in the Senate while Robert Barnwell Rhett and 
William Lowndes Yancey surpassed themselves 
in arousing the South to the dangers which 
seemed to threaten the two billions of dollars 
' Polk's Diary, II, 283-84. 


worth of negro property scattered all the way 
from Pennsylvania to the Rio Grande. It is not 
worth while to describe here the scenes which have 
been depicted so often: how the South was as- 
sembling in a sort of second Hartford convention 
at Nashville, how the leading Southern senators 
and representatives held meetings and caucuses 
from day to day, how Calhoun warned the South- 
ern people in a formal address^ that their dearest 
rights were at stake. It was an exciting time, 
calling for the coolest heads; Calhoun was al- 
ready in his sixty-eighth year and possessed now, 
as always, of a cool head and calculating mind. 
Still he led the revolt. Calhoun, unlike most 
other men, was as "high strung," as ambi- 
tious and as keen a debater the last year of his 
life as when he first entered congress. But it 
was the South, not the young and struggling na- 
tion of 181 1 for which he strove so manfully and 
sadly in 1850. He did not live to see the sur- 
render of his followers to the genius of his life- 
long rival. Clay, who had come back to congress 
to wrestle with him. 
» Works. VI 285-312. 


When Calhoun died, March 31, 1850, literally 
at his post in Washington, there was little sign 
that Southern men, like Foote of Mississippi, 
would "go over" to Clay or that the sunshine of 
the great orator's diffusive personality would dis- 
solve the bellicose Southern convention ; and well 
might one say of Calhoun as of Washington, he 
died at the right time, being spared the bitter cup 
preparing for him, though it required the death 
of a younger and more vigorous man than Cal- 
houn, none less than President Taylor himself, 
to secure the desired end, the third and last great 
compromise of the Kentucky statesman. 

It was a black day for the people of the Pal- 
metto state that brought the news of Calhoun's 
death. Men put on the signs of mourning and 
women wept as they went about their domestic 
duties. "The great Calhoun is dead" was the low 
murmur which passed from house to house and 
town to town throughout the devoted little state. 
Merchant princes of Charleston, plantation mas- 
ters of the cotton belt, simple farmers from the up- 
country wore the badge of genuine grief. So long 
had the dead senator lived and moved among his 


people, so long had they looked to him as a divine 
oracle in times of stress that men knew not what 
to do now that he was gone. Calhoun was the 
state of South Carolina and the state of South 
Carolina was quite as sacred to its people as was 
ever Stuart or Bourbon prince to his followers. 
For a whole month the remains of the departed 
statesman were kept above ground in order that 
the living might have a chance to show their re- 
spect, and when the tomb claimed its own, the 
people still lingered about the sacred spot like 
those who mourn their departed mates. And 
when the war came ten years later his remains 
were brought to Charleston and kept under a 
guard of two companies of South Carolina troops 
lest by some chance the hostile North should get 
opportunity to wreak its vengeance upon his 
mouldering frame. Calhoun still lived; and he 
lives to-day in a sense that no other Amer- 
ican leader lives. His memory is worshiped by 
tens of thousands ; even the poor negroes sing his 
praises and tell stories of his unmatched greatness. 
It was not Jefferson's lot to embody either dur- 
ing his life or after his death the thought and 


feelings of a whole state or any considerable part 
of the nation ; the "Sage of Monticello" was ever 
a partisan and men of wealth even in the capi- 
tal of the Old Dominion, revile both his name 
and his teachings to this day. Men remember 
Jefferson's ideas and ideals, not his personality, 
and they still contend for and dispute about them. 
No man doubts what Calhoun stood for; and the 
people of the South know well that it was he who 
prepared the way for secession and war. The 
author has heard small cotton farmers declaim 
how the South would have won but for his death 
ten years before the war. 

He had begun, the son of a small planter, whose 
father had been an anti-slavery man, had become 
a slaveholder through no fault of his own, mar- 
ried a lady of the aristocratic regime in Charles- 
ton and turned his attention to national politics. 
He became at once an ardent nationalist, impelled 
onward by the sectionalism of New England, and 
was one of the great figures of that period of 
reconstruction which followed the second war 
with England. Compelled by the injustice and 
bad faith of a personal and despotic party leader. 


he turned his matchless genius to the invention of 
a doctrine which should reconcile nationality with 
particularism, and became at once the champion 
of slavery and cotton, the money interests of the 
South. From 1833 to 1850 he taught the South 
that property in negro slaves was more sacred 
than the rights and ideas so eloquently defended 
by his own great teacher, Jefferson. He died, 
the greatest reactionary of his time. 

War was to be the next stage in the evolution, 
and Jefferson Davis was to complete the work of 
Calhoun and convert the old and radical democ- 
racy of Jefferson into armies contending upon 
the field of battle for ideals and purposes abso- 
lutely foreign to the mind of the great founder. 






To speak kindly of Jefferson Davis, even a 
half-century after the events which he 
helped to bring about, is an exceedingly 
risky thing. Somehow or other, mankind re- 
quires scapegoats; somebody must be punished 
for the mistakes of the race or the nation, and no 
better way has been found than to pick out some 
conspicuous individual, usually innocent and 
sometimes even harmless, and lay upon him the 
burden of shame and guilt for great calamities 
which have come as a result of the general sin- 
ning. I shall not here and now enter upon a 
defense of this system nor even of the innocent 
victims of it in history, but only remark that we 
have adopted the system in America, that we like 
it and that there is no telling when some of us 
171 . 


may be pounced upon by our community or our 
country as a scapegoat. Jefferson Davis was a 
scapegoat and he bore upon himself the marks of 
the general disapproval until he was laid to rest 
in his tomb in romantic Hollywood cemetery on 
the banks of the James. Keeping this idea in 
mind I think we may profitably study the re- 
markable career of the man who headed the great- 
est revolt in human history and whose work came 
nearer to success than that of any other who 
finally failed. 

Jefferson Davis was like Lincoln, born on the 
Kentucky frontier — in the Green river valley, 
whence his parents had gone from Georgia in 
search of a better station in life and some lands 
for their tribe of children. Pioneers, especially 
Kentucky pioneers, seem to have won the special 
approval of Providence if Providence approves of 
large families. Henry Clay's mother gave seven- 
teen sons and daughters to old Kentucky — there 
was a clan of Clays; Chief Justice Marshall's 
father carried thirteen children to his new home 
in the West and Samuel Davis, though not blessed 
so frequently, was the father of nine sons and 


daughters, of whom Jefferson was the youngest. 

With so great a household it was a problem in- 
deed for the Davises to find sustenance, and the 
father like Lincoln's father was restless. He 
did not remain a long time in Kentucky; but on 
hearing of the great wealth to be made in the 
hew cotton planting industry, embarked his 
household goods upon the Mississippi in 1810, 
two years after young Jefferson's advent into the 
world, and took up lands in the new Louisiana 
territory. Discontented still, he moved next year 
to the southwestern border of Mississippi where 
he found lands and conditions to suit his needs 
about fifty miles from the then thriving town of 

The Davises, it will be noticed, were, like the 
Jeffersons and the Calhouns, borderers — men who 
live and bring up their families on the outskirts 
of civilization and who accustom themselves to 
the absence of most of those accessories of life 
which most of us regard as essential^ There 
was not much comfort in the home of young 
Thomas Jefferson and he saw a rough life of it, 
with Indians taking scalps now and then in his 


neighborhood; as we have seen, John Calhoun 
knew what it meant to lose his nearest of kin by- 
Indian warfare; and young Jefferson Davis was 
hardly out of his cradle before Calhoun's war 
of 1812 turned loose the southern Indians to 
wreak their vengeance upon the innocent and the 
guilty alike. 

There was another similarity in the situation 
of Davis to that of Calhoun and Jefferson — ^he 
was a child of the new West of his day. The 
first counties established in Mississippi were 
Wilkinson, Amite and Adams — names which 
young Davis first learned to pronounce. Not 
only on the border, but as an exponent of a new 
West, he came to man's estate and to leadership 
in the affairs of the South. The Davis family 
was "Hardshell" Baptist as the ugly term now 
goes — proof enough that he was "rocked" in the 
same kind of a cradle that "rocked" young Lin- 
coln whose father had taken him off to the border 
forests of Indiana and Illinois. The local school- 
master in Davis' neighborhood was one Shaw, 
who gathered the boys of the community into a 
little log schoolhouse to teach them the mysteries 


of the three R's. But as fate will have it, the 
teacher was an uncommon good one, an emigre 
from Boston, like Jefferson's and Calhoun's 
teachers, representatives of learning in a far 
country doing missionary work — great work as 
their pupils' lives made fully evident in the days 
to come. 

But Jefferson's West grew strong in opposing 
the royal governors of Virginia; Calhoun's in 
fighting the Federalist reaction and the Charleston 
clique; while the West of Jefferson Davis was a 
cotton growing section which looked upon the 
federal government, like the protectionists of the 
East, as an agency whose primary business it was 
to foster and protect industry. Human rights 
as such, theories of government and the growth 
of a great homogeneous nationality such as Jeffer- 
son and Calhoun struggled to attain, were far 
from the minds of these pioneers of the lower 
South. Still it was a wholesome, democratic 
community aside from the one great interest — 
cotton planting and slavery, its concomitant. 

When young Davis was ready for college, he 
was sent to the so-called Athens of the West, 


Lexington, Kentucky, where a Connecticut 
teacher had built one of the greatest colleges in the 
country, judged by the number of students present 
and the variety of subjects offered. Transylvania 
University was indeed a great institution when 
Holley was at its head and when Speaker Henry 
Clay was its patron. Ambitious students from 
all the states and territories west of the Allegha- 
nies flocked there to procure the necessary training 
for public careers. Jefferson advised young 
Virginians to repair to the Kentucky fountain of 
learning as the source of true republicanism. In 
support of the college Lexington established the 
first public library In the West and both town 
and state boasted of "the University" in a way 
that should have compelled a greater success than 
has since been accorded to it. Latin and Greek 
and Mathematics were the three R's of Davis' 
collegiate training and he pursued them with a 
fair degree of diligence considering his strong 
bent for other things. Davis was not the boy to 
break down his health with hard study as Calhoun 
had been nor to "push" himself like Jefferson into 
the society of his teachers in order to listen to 



their "sweet discourse of books." Davis did not 
"graduate," as Americans insist upon saying 
when a young man completes his four years' 
course at college. He liked to tease his profess- 
ors and play pranks upon the unoffending, if 
somewhat inviting, citizens of the town and he 
enjoyed living and breathing the fresh outdoor, 
Kentucky atmosphere, all of which was contrary 
to the law of the place and the wishes of his 
superiors — traits which college boys elsewhere 
have sometimes developed. 

From Transylvania Davis was sent to West 
Point where he met Robert E. Lee and Albert 
Sidney Johnston, men who became famous co- 
workers of his in the great struggle for Southern 
independence. At the National Military Academy 
he received the training which he most desired 
and though he did not win a high stand in his 
class, he seems to have imbibed the spirit of the 
place as thoroughly as any who ever entered upon 
its courses. Davis was all his life a "military 
man" with the military air and some of the class 
consciousness which many other West Pointers 
have shown in abundance. The simple demo- 


cratic boy who "went off to college" in 182 1 
came home in 1828 "every inch" an aristocrat, 
which was probably what Joseph Davis, the oldest 
brother, and head of the family since the father's 
death in 1828, desired, for the fortunes of the 
Davises had greatly improved. Joseph Davis 
was fast becoming a millionaire and a great 
planter who felt a keen interest in the young 
army officer whose fortune already promised so 

The five or six years which young Davis now 
spent on the northwestern frontier did not ma- 
terially change his views of life or his already 
fixed character. His marriage to the daughter 
of Colonel Zachary Taylor at the close of his army 
service in 1835 was more important in drawing 
out the character of the man than in seriously 
affecting his destiny. It was clandestine. The 
Taylor homestead was then on the Ohio near 
Louisville, Kentucky; but Taylor and his daugh- 
ter lived at old Fort Crawford in southwestern 
Wisconsin. In order to get rid of an ambitious 
suitor for the hand of the young lady, Taylor sent 
the young lieutenant to Fort Gibson in Arkansas, 


some four hundred miles away. As usual locks 
and keys proved of no avail against the desires 
of the young lovers. Miss Taylor made a visit 
to her father's sister who lived in a small frame 
house on the banks of the Ohio about five miles 
from the older Taylor estate. Davis visited the 
place at the same time, despite the distance 
of nearly a thousand miles and carried off the 
prize to his brother's great plantation, Hurricane, 
on the Mississippi, a little below Vicksburg. 

Here in the year 1835 Davis began the career 
of a cotton planter, so profitable in the thirties 
and fifties of the last century. He bought ne- 
groes "on credit," and built a small plantation 
house on the land which his brother gave him as 
his part of the deceased father's estate. Working 
with his own hands among his negroes in the 
cotton fields was in his case, as in Calhoun's, not 
inconsistent with the ideals of the Southern 
people, though the great planters were seldom seen 
on their plantations except on horseback, giving 
orders to overseers. In a few months both Davis 
and his wife were stricken by the fever whicK 
attacks the unacclimated in the hot delta region. 


The young wife died, but the husband slowly re- 
covered, not regaining his strength until a year 
later. Davis never enjoyed vigorous health after 
the terrible experiences of his service as an army 
officer in the northwest corner of Wisconsin in 
1828-30, and neither as a planter nor as United 
States senator nor yet as president of the Con- 
federacy did he ever for any considerable period 
count himself a "well'* man. He often arose 
from a sick bed to make his speeches in the 
Senate ; the orders for the assembling of the Con- 
federate troops at Manassas in 1861 were issued 
while he lay prostrate in his private chamber, and 
when he retired to Mississippi after two years* 
imprisonment he was of course a "physical 
wreck," though the spirit of the man was still 
equal to many a storm. Jefferson Davis is a per- 
fect example of what a resolute will can endure 
and accomplish in spite of the most depressing 
and incurable of maladies. 

Eight years, beginning with 1837, were next 
spent on the plantation at Davis Bend, Warren 
county, Mississippi, and aside from the work of 
the plantation Davis read history, both ancient 


and contemporary, as few Southerners of his day 
were doing and when he emerged in 1843 ^^ ^ 
candidate for election to the state legislature as a 
Democrat from a Whig constituency, he was 
ready even for the debate with the great orator 
Sergeant Prentiss, which was forced upon him. 
It was a better discussion, we are told, than that 
which occurred in Virginia between young John 
Randolph and the aged Patrick Henry in 1798. 
The debate and the candidacy made one thing 
clear if nothing else, that the future Confederate 
chieftain never defended but opposed the then 
widely discussed policy of repudiation advocated 
by his party. But Davis was defeated in his first 
ambition, though the reputation which he won 
pointed him out to the ''boss" of the state, Robert 
J. Walker, as presidential elector in 1844, when 
the slender, angular form of Jefferson Davis first 
became known to the people of every county in 
Mississippi. He had the satisfaction of voting 
for the successful candidate of that momentous 
campaign and a year later he was sent on to con- 
gress "to win his spurs" in national politics, i.e., 
in December, 1845, ^^^ J^^^ when Calhoun, his 


great mentor, was planning his last hopeless cam- 
paign for the presidency. 

Davis was already known as a follower of Cal- 
houn in much the same way that Calhoun had been 
counted a disciple of Jefferson in 1810; but in the 
one case as in the other there was too much inde- 
pendence for either simply to tread "beaten 
paths." Davis was essentially an aristocrat ; Cal- 
houn had been a democrat as was Jefferson before 
him, though both the Virginian and the Carolina 
leader were aristocrats in personal tastes and feel- 
ings. Davis, though a Democrat in politics, was 
a representative of the "interests" of the lower 
South; Jefferson had been in 1776, and always 
remained, an enemy of the "interests" both in 
Virginia and in the nation; thus we see the 
metamorphosis of the old Republican party in the 
positions of its representative men. But Davis 
was not yet the Voice of the lower South or of his 

Mississippi was in 1844 the aggressive South- 
ern state; it was the South CaroHna of 1812. 
The leaders of Mississippi when Davis entered 
public life had just displaced the Tennessee group 


which had but recently passed its zenith, though 
the Mississippians picked a Tennesseean for 
president. No wiser poHtician ever had a seat 
in the United States Senate than Robert J. Walker 
of Pennsylvania-Mississippi, senator since 1836, 
master planner of the Baltimore Democratic 
convention which "slaughtered" Van Buren 
and showed Calhoun how futile had been all 
his efforts to attain the nomination for the 
presidency and who at the right time intro- 
duced Polk and carried off the honors. No 
better piece of "wire-pulling" was ever done by 
the late Mark Hanna than that which culminated 
in the nomination of Polk and Dallas — the one a 
low tariff man to please Calhoun, the other a 
protectionist to win Pennsylvania and, in order 
to hold the Northwest to the lower South, "fifty- 
four forty or fight" (for Oregon) was added, in 
the platform, to the Mississippi slogan, the "rean- 
nexation of Texas." What proved the wisdom 
of Walker was the election which showed every 
Southern state but three. North Carolina, Ten- 
nessee and Kentucky, and every Northwestern 
state but one, Ohio, "solid" for Polk and Dallas. 


What Calhoun had planned for all his life and 
failed to accomplish was thus won by the Missis- 
sippi senator in a campaign of less than a year! 
The South and the West had united fortunes once 
more as in 1800 and in 1828. 

Walker's co-workers in Mississippi were John 
A. Quitman, a New Yorker, Jacob Thompson, a 
North Carolinian, Alexander G. Brown, a South 
Carolinian, Henry S. Foote, a Virginian, and 
Jefferson Davis, a Kentuckian. None of these 
men were planters native to Mississippi, some 
were former Jackson men, some ardent supporters 
of Calhoun, but all had done men's work and 
more in electing Polk. What they asked for in 
national politics was what they obtained, the 
annexation of Texas. What was to come after — 
war with Mexico, expansion to the Pacific and a 
new crisis about slavery — was not a matter that 
gave them any great concern. The rapid rise in 
the value of negro property, like stocks on Wall 
street when new regions of exploitation offer, 
was a perfectly natural consequence of the Missis- 
sippi policies. The annexation of Louisiana had 
produced a similar result in 1803; ^^^ ^^ 1^55 


Henry A. .Wise, of Virginia, declared to his 
people that the making of Kansas a slave state 
would "raise the price of your negroes" a hun- 
dred per cent. 

Walker became Polk's secretary of treasury 
and dominated to a large degree the whole 
administration; John A. Quitman and Jefferson 
Davis became brigadier-generals in the Mexican 
war; A. G. Brown was governor of Mississippi; 
Jacob Thompson remained in the House; and 
Henry S. Foote went to the United States Senate. 
Was ever a small group of leaders — all living in 
a small and new state — ^more successful or more 
influential ? 

Davis was the youngest member of the Missis- 
sippi coterie. Walker was its master and mouth- 
piece. A small wizen-faced, stooping figure, unat- 
tractive and unprepossessing to a high degree, he 
was, nevertheless, the architect of the democratic 
imperialism under which Texas was annexed, and 
New Mexico and California were taken as a rec- 
ompense for not taking Texas earlier. The only 
difference between Walker's view and the policy of 
the federal government as it was finally carried out 


was that he demanded all Mexico to save future 
troubles and excuses about Panama and the canal. 
Davis was heart and soul with his Mississippi 
patron and when he came back from Mexico with 
the honors of Buena Vista "thick upon him," Gov- 
ernor Brown appointed him to the then vacant 
seat for Mississippi in the United States Senate. 
"General" Davis, young though he was and a 
new member of the "most august legislative body 
on earth," took rank at once with the first in the 
land. Calhoun had come back to "die in the last 
ditch;" Webster was there, too; and Benton and 
Lewis Cass, the latter soon to be the defeated 
candidate of his party for the presidency, were 
leaders. Placed on the committee on military 
affairs, of which Cass was chairman, Davis had 
opportunity to work out a policy for himself, his 
committee, and the country, for this was just then 
the most important committee in congress. The 
plan was simple: send forward to the scene of 
w^ar ten new regiments of regular troops, well 
supported by the militia forces already in the 
service, hold all Mexico and never give up the 
southern part of the country if any. The coun- 


try is ours by right of conquest — a right which 
few nations will dare dispute. The obliteration 
of Mexico or its restoration was a matter for Con- 
gress to decide, not for the newspapers, least of 
all for the Mexicans who had appealed to the last 
argument of nations and had lost. 

Though an ardent admirer of Calhoun, Davis 
had no patience with his program, which was the 
one finally adopted; viz., the restoration of Mex- 
ico and the cession to the United States of New 
Mexico and California. The older man, foresee- 
ing what an awful struggle would ensue over the 
question of slavery in the proposed enormous 
accessions, preferred the more moderate course; 
the younger flushed with victory and just begin- 
ning his career as a national leader, was willing 
to take the risk and appeal to the country to re- 
turn the party to power in 1848. It need not be 
said that the Calhoun policy was the wiser both! 
for the nation and for the lower South, then 
dominant in the nation. 

The people in the election which followed repu- 
diated the party which had settled the Texas and 
Oregon questions and annexed territory sufficient 


to make a dozen states. They went further and 
indicated, though not very clearly, that they did 
not intend that slavery should be extended over 
the new territories. The South, which four years 
before had won a great triumph and apparently 
consummated the alliance with the West, was 
now threatened with the loss of the reins of 
government and of all the benefits of the recent 
war. The only consoling feature of the late 
campaign was that the president-elect was a great 
slaveholder and might in the end be relied on to 
see that no harm befell "the institution." From 
Davis's point of view the failure of the South to 
support Cass was fatal, though Taylor was, it 
will be recalled, the father of his first wife and 
his commander at Buena Vista. His idea was 
that the West which was "solid" for Cass should 
be solidly supported by the South and that the 
alliance of the two sections would not only guar- 
antee the country against the dangers of the 
abolitionists but secure the interests of the South. 
Cass was not unwilling that slavery should go 
into the territories, in fact, after some wavering, 
he was able to find a constitutional mandate in 


favor of slavery in the disputed region. Davis 
made speeches in Louisiana and Mississippi 
against his father-in-law, yet everywhere declar- 
ing the general to be both a noble man and a great 
soldier and, in consequence of this moderation and 
of his relationship to the president, it was expected 
in Washington in March, 1849, that the Missis- 
sippi senator would have great influence at the 
White House during the incoming administration. 
But when the new president came out for the 
admission of California as a free state, not only 
Davis, but the South in general, was bitterly dis- 
appointed. Furthermore, the president threat- 
ened to send the United States army into New 
Mexico if the people who were trying to make 
that region pro-slavery did not desist. The crisis 
of 1850 had been foreshadowed by the election of 
1848; its bitterness was assured by the determined 
attitude of the new administration. Davis and 
Foote left Mississippi in November, 1849, con- 
vinced that the people of that state would secede 
rather than allow the admission of California as 
a free state. There was almost unanimity of feel- 
ing on the subject. Whigs were disgusted with 


Taylor, and Democrats were enraged. The mass 
meetings which assembled in various places not 
only in Mississippi but in the South as a whole 
were attended by the leaders of both parties. And 
these meetings called for a general Southern con- 
vention to take counsel what to do in the coming 
conflict. Davis was convinced that the South 
should demand the extension of the line of 36® 
30' to the Pacific and that new states south of 
that line should be admitted as slave states and 
that southern California should of course come 
in at once as a slave state. 

There is no space in a paper like this to discuss 
the long debates in congress, the Nashville con- 
vention and the final submission of the South to 
the compromise legislation of 1850. Davis 
thought that the South should have stood to- 
gether to the last and that Southern states should 
have taken steps toward secession when their 
ultimatum as to California was not heeded. He 
believed, and I think he was correct in this, that 
Clay and Fillmore, after the death of Taylor in 
1850, would have yielded all that was asked. 
What brought the humiliation of the South was 


in his opinion, the demagoguery of Alexander 
Stephens, his own colleague, Henry S. Foote, and 
the weakness of John Bell of Tennessee. When 
Foote declared in the Senate that Davis no longer 
represented the public opinion of Mississippi, the 
latter, unlike the present habit of senators, offered 
to resign and challenged his colleague to do the 
same and go home and fight it out before the 
people. Foote accepted. They became rival can- 
didates for the governorship of the state and 
canvassed the counties of Mississippi much after 
the fashion of Douglas and Lincoln in 1858. 
The decision was in favor of Foote, and Davis 
retired to his estate a stranded politician with lit- 
tle prospect of ever emerging again as a leader 
and exponent of his state. It would be inter- 
esting indeed to read his private correspondence 
during the years 185 1 and 1852, but this seems 
to be impossible since most of his papers 
and library were destroyed by federal troops in 
1863 during the Vicksburg campaign. But I be- 
lieve Davis gave up the idea of secession and the 
hope of united action on the part of the Southern 


In this case as in many another the unexpected 
happened. The Democrats won in the election 
of 1852 and Davis, the former extremist, was 
selected for a principal place in the new cabinet. 
Pierce owed neither his nomination nor his elec- 
tion to Davis ; in fact, Mississippi leaders had less 
to do with this campaign than almost any other 
Southern group. But Franklin Pierce was a per- 
sonal friend of Davis, and Caleb Gushing of Mas- 
sachusetts, who was a still closer friend, was also 
very close to the president-elect. Gushing and 
Pierce talked over Southern men and Davis was 
their choice. No abler man could have been 
selected from the South, though it is very doubt- 
ful if he would have been chosen by the voters of 
that section as a representative. It may as well 
be said now as later that his administration of 
the war department was regarded as peculiarly 
able and satisfactory to all groups of opinion in 
the country, and the old story that he used his 
office to prepare the way for secession is utterly 
unworthy of credence in the light of the facts 
and of his own history. 


Pierce had won the electoral votes of every 
state in the Union except four: Massachusetts, 
Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee, and this over- 
whelming victory was due to the feeling of the 
country that there had been agitation enough and 
that slavery, definitely limited to a certain area, 
was not henceforth to be the bone of contention 
between the North and the South. I cannot say 
from documentary evidence that Davis was also 
of this opinion, but it seems to me that such was 
undoubtedly his view. 

.What sort of man was this Davis, destined, as 
it turned out, to be the backbone of the adminis- 
trations of both Pierce and Buchanan? He was 
a tall, spare man forty-four years old, with large 
gray eyes, rather large and irregular features ; his 
limbs were long and slender and rather loosely 
joined together, reminding one of his fellow 
Kentuckian whose fame was so soon to fill the 
earth, Abraham Lincoln. He was full six feet tall 
and carried himself well, as do most "West Point- 
ers"; every inch an aristocrat, as Carl Schurz, 
who saw him about this time, said. He seldom 
walked about Washington during his eight years 



residence there just preceding the civil war; but 
everybody knew him and almost every one liked 
him. His carriage took him daily to his office 
or to the President's house where he was welcome 
at all times; or in the afternoon he might have 
been seen on a handsome saddle horse going out 
to Cabin John's Bridge or watching the progress 
of the work on the present capitol which was 
completed under his supervision. Strength, will, 
imperious determination sat upon the brow and 
countenance of this man of feeble health but iron 

During the four years that Davis was at the 
head of the war department, he formulated both 
for the President and himself the policy which he 
was to follow until 1861 and which but for 
Stephen A. Douglas would in all probability have 
become the settled policy of the country. This 
was the building of a Southern Pacific railway 
with its eastern terminus at Memphis, the acquisi- 
tion of the Panama canal zone, the purchase of 
Cuba, the opening of Japan and China to Amer- 
ican trade, and the cultivation of closer commer- 
cial relations with South America. This was a 


bold scheme, but it cannot be said that it was 
very different from that which has been actually- 
followed by the country from that day until 
the present time. There was something, too, 
in the program for all sections and interests, 
though the South was to have the lion's 
share just as the North has given herself 
under post-bellum administrations. Undoubtedly 
Caleb Gushing, one of the very greatest minds 
Massachusetts has ever produced — though one 
does not hear this in Boston — was in part the 
author of this program, and the President was 
entitled to call it "my policies." 

Davis, the former strict constructionist and fol- 
lower of Calhoun, the arch-secessionist, announced 
a part of the general plan, his role in particular, 
the Pacific railway, to a Philadelphia audience in 
the autumn of 1853. It was astonishing, yet the 
"captains of industry" liked it and Southern 
leaders were pleased if only it could be carried 
v»'ithout raising that everlasting question, con- 
stitutionality. Davis arranged this point nicely 
by proposing to build the road under the war 
powers of the federal government. That sounds 


like Calhoun in the early days when he was war 
secretary or like Clay when he was planning his 
first great American highway, or not unlike Cal- 
houn's notable Memphis program of 1845. ^^^ 
the idea was based on the same general scheme of 
politics : the alliance of the South and West — the 
old theme of Jefferson in 1800, of Calhoun and 
Clay in 18 12 and of Jackson in 1828. How 
many times has not this plan filled the mind of 
politician and statesman in this country! And 
now that Pierce had practically all the country 
behind him, why not? Certainly there was 
enough in the scheme to make a president and 
Davis was not averse to the hum of that famous 
bee, though his ambition was not hasty, nor his 
electioneering evident. He proposed to build the 
road and then seek the presidency or at any rate 
make a good beginning. One thing he miscal- 
culated, the capacity of the people of the North- 
west for self-sacrifice, for his scheme involved, to 
a certain extent, the isolation of the middle and 
northwestern states. It would have made St. 
Louis a Chicago and Memphis a St. Louis. 
Many men in Illinois saw the meaning of the 


Davis plan; but that might not have meant so 
much had it not been for their leader, Stephen A. 
Douglas, whose love for the Middle West was 
quite as great as that of Davis for the South. 
Douglas returned to his place in the Senate in 
December following the Philadelphia utterance 
with a plan of his own — one which would satisfy 
Chicago interests and give new lands to the rest- 
less Iowa pioneer. 

Senator Douglas had been a strong competitor 
of Pierce for the nomination in 1852, but Douglas 
was not invited to become a member of the cabinet 
as might have been expected. The representa- 
tives of the West in the Pierce cabinet were 
James Guthrie, a railroad president from Ken- 
tucky, and Robert McClellan, a Michigan politi- 
cian, whose name counted for nothing in national 
affairs. In the West there were two interests 
contending for the supremacy: that of the St. 
Louis railway promoters headed by Benton, who 
had lost his hold upon his constituents, and that 
of the Chicago capitalists headed by Douglas, 
whose power had already eclipsed that of both 
Cass and Benton. Douglas was preeminently a 


representative of the "moneyed classes" and his 
purpose was to build railroads from Chicago 
westward and northwestward which should tie to 
that growing town the great "back-country" of 
Iowa and the Nebraska territory then embracing 
hundreds of thousands of square miles. It was 
a long and bitter struggle between the two cities 
and the outcome depended on the turn of national 
policy — whether votes could be found for giving 
aid to the contemplated roads and whether a 
Pacific railway could be made to unload its enrich- 
ing commerce in Chicago or St. Louis. 

Since 1847, Douglas had been a railroad states- 
man, his first essay being the Illinois Central and 
the Mobile and Ohio, for both of which he had 
obtained rich grants of public lands from con- 
gress. These two roads connected New Orleans 
and Chicago and united more firmly the lower 
South and the Northwest, already tied together 
by the Mississippi. Having won the initial fight 
he thought in 1854 to "carry" the infinitely 
greater scheme, the Pacific railway with its eastern 
terminus at some point on the western border of 
Iowa which meant that Chicago would be the real 


winner. The forces which Douglas must unite 
were the same which had supported his Illinois 
Central-Mobile and Ohio program of 1850/ the 
middle West, the lower South and New York 
commercial interests. 

The South was devoted above all else to slavery 
and the New York democracy was handmaid to 
this Southern interest. The old Benton group had 
been overshadowed in Missouri by the Atchison 
pro-slavery party. To unite these elements of 
the national economic life in support of his plans, 
Douglas must resort to some finesse for which 
he was eminently qualified. What the Gulf 
states demanded in 1854 was the expansion of 
the area of slavery and the consequent increase 
of her power in congress. This idea, too, was 
also exceedingly popular in the old South, in 
states like Virginia and North Carolina, and the 
Whig party in Kentucky was fast coming to 
the same position; Atchison's following in 
Missouri was about to overthrow Benton on a 
pro-slavery issue and was consequently half 
ready for cooperation with the lower South. 
* Johnson, A., Life of Stephen A. Douglas, 166-176. 


New York railroad men and capitalists required 
only profits. Douglas was willing to satisfy all 
these demands. 

Davis's scheme for a Pacific railway was, of 
necessity, based upon the assumption that its 
eastern terminus would be Memphis, and its adop- 
tion by congress depended upon whether the 
former Benton following could be won. Davis 
expected to win this party through Atchison, 
for Atchison and Davis were intimate friends 
and ardent pro-slavery Democrats. Senator 
Jones of Iowa had been a schoolmate of Davis 
at Transylvania University in 1821 to 1824 and 
they were on the best of terms ; the two Dodges, 
both senators, one from Iowa, the other from 
Wisconsin, were also friends of long standing. 
Davis counted therefore on winning the debatable 
ground of Missouri and Iowa for his undertaking, 
granting to St. Louis a branch line connecting 
that city with the far West, thus in reality ofifer- 
ing to divide the eastern terminus of the proposed 
road. The President joined the Mississippi 
leader and called the attention of congress in 
his message of December, 1853, to the important 


subject and at the same time reported the annexa- 
tion of the Mesilla valley region — a cession of 
territory from Mexico for the very purpose which 
Davis had in mind. 

Douglas had not been idle. As chairman of 
the committee on territories he offered in the 
Senate on January 4, 1854, the bill which was to 
revolutionize the politics of the time. Douglas 
had been interested in creating a new territory 
west of Iowa many years. This interest in 1854 
was as before largely dependent upon the expec- 
tation of building the Pacific railway which should 
terminate on the western border of Iowa, con- 
necting there with Chicago roads. Thus two 
great plans of expansion and westward develop- 
ment were presented to the country almost at the 
same time. In order to win the South, Douglas 
finally changed his bill so as to open the Kansas 
end of the Nebraska territory to slavery. This 
secured Atchison at once, who had already been 
endeavoring to amend the Missouri compromise 
law so as to admit slavery into territories north 
of a parallel of 36° 30' ; it won strong Kentucky 
support and enthusiastic approval throughout the 


South. The great railway scheme behind Doug- 
las's efforts was not broached; but from the evi- 
dence now available I think it hardly open to suc- 
cessful dispute that his major interest was in the 
building of the railway. The concession to the 
South on the point of slavery extension was not 
to Douglas very important, not comparable to the 
building of a railroad which would call into 
existence a line of prosperous communities all the 
way across the continent and make of Chicago the 
greatest city of the West. That Atchison and his 
friends would control Kansas and practically name 
the early delegates in congress was not a matter 
of concern to him, for was it not all inside the 
Democratic party? 

No one was more surprised at the sudden up- 
heaval which followed the introduction of the 
Kansas measure than its author and he never 
freed himself from the delusion that the excite- 
ment was due to the machinations of Chase and 
Sumner. Of course Douglas could not go before 
the people and say his object was the development 
and expansion of the middle West, and it would 
have been equally unwise to say that the South 


could not in the nature of the case profit from 
the measure. 

But while the Douglas plans did not prosper 
Davis was completely checkmated by a leader of 
his own party, at the very outset of his second 
political career. The angry discussions in con- 
gress and the flaming popular resentment In all 
parts of the North served to show him that the 
South was in danger and that some increase in 
the number of Southern states was absolutely 
necessary if he and his friends were to continue 
to control the legislation of the country. His 
railroad plans were therefore the more important 
— so important that he made up his mind not 
to allow any other than a Southern Pacific line to 
be established. He counted on the power of the 
South, upon the favorable attitude of the majority 
of the Senate and upon the real advantages which 
he was certain would be offered by a survey of 
the route by way of southern New Mexico. But 
the bold secretary of war was predestined to 
defeat; he was never able to secure a favorable 
vote even in the friendly Senate though at the 
close of the Pierce administration he took up the 


cause in that body himself. Neither was Douglas 
able, after the blighting effect of his Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, to secure a favorable decision upon his 
major measure. The Gulf states were neutralized 
by the influence of the upper Mississippi region 
and nothing was done until a new regime came 
to power. 

But Jefferson Davis did not return to his 
former position, that of 1850. He served his 
country as secretary of war with whole-hearted 
enthusiasm though it must be said that he never 
lost sight of the interests of the South. The army 
was enlarged, improved guns were introduced, 
young officers were sent off on various surveying 
parties for their better training, and the youthful 
George B. McClelland was sent as a special repre- 
sentative of the war department to observe and 
study the movements of the British and Russian 
armies in Crimea. Robert E. Lee, his boyhood 
friend, was made superintendent of the West 
Point Academy and Albert Sidney Johnston was 
advanced to important command; camels were 
brought from Arabia and assigned to the western 
army posts in the hope that they might be used in 


transporting military stores across the western 
deserts. The war department was alert and 
active while the future confederate president was 
in charge, and an examination of many personal 
letters received by him during that time has re- 
vealed no proof that he was preparing the way 
for future movements. He was a nationalist 
now and as a nationalist planned "large things/* 
It was upon his advice as well as upon that of 
Caleb Gushing that Townshend Harris and Com- 
modore Perry were sent to Japan in the interest 
of American trade; that the attention of the 
country was called to the importance of the 
Panama canal project and the Clayton-Bulwer 
treaty negotiated ; and that the purchase of Cuba 
from Spain was insisted upon by both Pierce and 
Buchanan. Davis was the true imperialist who 
believed that the borders of the United States 
ought to be expanded in all directions, that no 
weak and maudlin sentiment about the rights of 
weaker nations and the Declaration of Independ- 
ence ought to prevent the American government 
from advancing to a position of power and in- 
fluence in the world. Still it was the South 


which was to rule this imperiahst republic, the 
South whose leaders were experienced statesmen 
and diplomats, and not the fickle and uncertain 
Northern democracy imbued with notions of 
equality, universal suffrage and free discussion. 

In these policies he enjoyed the enthusiastic 
support of Mississippi, the most aggressive ex- 
pansionist state in the Union during the years just 
preceding the civil war. Alexander G. Brown, 
a leader of Httle less importance in the lower 
South than Davis himself, was calling for the 
forcible seizure of Central American states in 
order that Southern institutions might be carried 
there; he, too, desired the Panama zone in order 
that our "shore line" might be extended on to 
California and next he would have reasoned, 
with eminent publicists of to-day, that all com- 
munities within our "shore lines" by a sort of 
manifest destiny belonged to the United States.^ 
Other Mississippians and other Southerners 
dreamed dreams about American greatness very 
much like those of the present time; no wonder 
Davis was an imperialist and that he desired to 
*Hart, A. B., Actual Government, 273-276. 


annex all Mexico and planned to extend the Cot- 
ton Kingdom over the new region. 


The administration of Buchanan was one long 
struggle of the South, which then dominated the 
Supreme Court, the United States Senate and 
controlled the cabinet, to make sure its power in 
the nation. The Democratic party was the great 
conservative organization through which the lead- 
ers of the South acted. The Democratic party 
was dominated by the South and the South was 
absolutely subordinated to her one great economic 
interest, slavery. The South was "solid" on that 
subject. No newspaper could thrive in that broad 
region unless its editor defended the institution, 
no preacher could hold his congregation who 
failed to do homage to the one supreme power 
which made and unmade public men at will, no 
professor was allowed to teach in any college if he 
dissented from the view of the planter class on 
slavery.^ The legislative, the executive and the 
judicial powers of all the Southern states were in 

*At William and Mary College, University of North 
Carolina, and Murfreesboro College, Tenn., examples were 
made of men who opposed slavery, 1856-1860. 


the hands of men who owned slaves just as all 
these functions of most of the Northern and East- 
ern states to-day are dominated by the corpora- 
tions and the monopolistic interests of the North. 
But this united South governed by its trained 
statesmen and men of affairs did not control a 
majority of the votes of the Democratic party; 
more than half of the support of the party came 
from that great region then known as the North- 
west, to-day the middle West. The man who 
could deliver this section to the Southern leaders 
and guarantee success at the polls in i860, was 
Stephen A. Douglas, supported by the commer- 
cial, the speculative and especially the railroad 
interests of the upper Mississippi states; and 
Douglas was himself the master of a hundred 
slaves. The associates and lieutenants of Doug- 
las in the Northwest were Governor Wright of 
Indiana, Jesse D. Bright, a Kentucky slave-owner, 
who represented Indiana in the United States 
Senate and James Shields, senator from Minne- 
sota but at the same time representative of the 
Illinois Central railroad. One other senator from 
the Northwest who would go farther, perhaps. 


in aid of the South than any of these was George 
W. Jones of Iowa of whom Henry A. Wise wrote 
to Secretary John B. Floyd: "He is as good a 
nigger man as you or I." 

The leaders of the South were Jefferson Davis, 
Howell Cobb, R. M. T. Hunter and Henry A. 
Wise, all but one heads of the chief committees 
in the United States Senate. Davis was the 
ablest, the purest, the wisest of this group and all 
Washington official life deferred to him during 
these last palmy days of the ante-bellum South. 
The senator from Mississippi was indeed Cal- 
houn's successor. He spoke for the South as 
could no other, and like Calhoun, he was the 
representative of property, of the "interests" not 
of the struggling masses of common mankind who 
had adored Jefferson. Davis did not now believe 
in secession; but he counted on being able to 
govern the nation through the great powers of 
the Senate. It was not then, as it is not now, the 
interest of powerful property holders to break up 
the government and none saw this more clearly 
than Davis. 

Looking carefully over the nation he found a 


large minority in New York and Pennsylvania 
so devoted to Democratic tradition that it would 
have required an earthquake to shake their alle- 
giance, just as we find in the same region to-day 
a hide-bound devotion to the Republican party as 
such. Tammany Hall, under the control of 
Fernando Wood, who was soon to become Mayor 
of New York, assisted by the wealth of August 
Belmont and Cornelius Vanderbilt, was then as 
now ready to do the bidding of the strongest group 
in the Democracy, which was the South. Besides, 
all the vast and growing patronage of the federal 
government was in the hands of the South for 
distribution. The tariff had been adjusted so that 
the hungry business interests of Pennsylvania 
looked to the party of the South, and not that of 
Seward and Chase, for further favors. The Su- 
preme Court as already indicated was composed 
of slaveholders and men who lived in the North, 
but who might have lamented that they had not 
been born south of the Mason and Dixon line 
in order to enjoy the blessings of "the institu- 
tion." The lawyers and planters who sat on 
that august bench were men who had been 


trained in the school of conservatism; their 
very mental processes served them well in their 
search for reasons and precedents to sustain the 
dominant interests of the time. There was little 
likelihood that a change in the character of that 
body would occur in a decade. 

Well aware that these great points in the game 
gave him more than even chances against the in- 
surgent North, Davis gave his thoughts to the 
affairs of the Buchanan administration in which 
he was almost, if not quite, as powerful as he had 
been when he was actually a member of tlie 
cabinet. He was consulted on all important ques- 
tions ; he read and improved presidential messages 
to suit his wishes ; he dictated most of the foreign 
policy of the country and devised measures for 
the further aggrandizement of the South, confi- 
dent that his section and his great "interest," 
slavery, would not be thrust from the seat of the 
mighty for years to come. 

The purchase of Cuba, that "pearl of the Antil- 
les" which had so long dangled before the covet- 
ous eyes of American statesmen, was a prime 
object of Davis and his close co-workers, Benja- 


min and Slidell, senators from Louisiana; the 
break-up of the Mexican Republic was encouraged 
and planned in the mission of John Forsyth to 
Mexico ;i and the making of Kansas a slave state 
was expected as a result of Robert J. Walker's 
appointment to the governorship of that unhappy 
territory. These were large undertakings; but 
they were hardly less likely to be accomplished 
than had been the annexation of California, the 
settlement of the Oregon question, the passage of 
the Walker tariff and the reorganization of the 
finance of the country all during the stormy years 
of Polk's administration. The party was then 
new in office; it was, in 1857, old and thoroughly 
entrenched. In 1845 the great conservative 
Whig party was still in existence; in 1857 the 
opposition was made up of the rank and file of 
the common people with mere idealists for lead- 
ers — such for example as the Democratic situation 
offered in 1897. If ever the great moneyed and 
conservative interests of the nation held full sway 
it was during the four years just preceding the 

* Callahan, J. M. Paper read before the American His- 
torical Association at its recent meeting in Indianapolis, 
December, 1910. 


civil war — and none knew this better than Jef- 
ferson Davis, before whom Buchanan is said to 
have trembled on more than one occasion. 

But there was a cloud in the heavens scarce 
larger than a man's hand; it rose from the lake 
region of the Northwest. Douglas was not satis- 
fied and Douglas was a "power" in the Democratic 
party. Robert J. Walker, the former Mississippi 
"boss," — the man who had brought Jefferson 
Davis into public life during the exciting Polk 
campaign fifteen years before — was not satisfied 
to do the bidding of the Buchanan-Davis-Cobb 
political junta in Kansas and deserted the South- 
ern leaders with whom he had acted since he be- 
came an ardent champion of the cause of Texas 
annexation in 1836. Walker sustained the free 
state party in Kansas and returned to Washing- 
ton in the autumn of 1857 to win the President's 
approval or to resign his office and appeal to the 
Democratic masses of the North — the insurgents 
of the time — for vindication. Buchanan repudi- 
ated Walker, and the latter resigned; Davis de- 
nounced the "traitorous" governor who came to 
the capital pleading the cause of men who enlisted 


under the banner of John Brown of Osawatomie. 
The South was disgusted; the man who had led 
or prodded Polk into his war with Mexico and 
asked for the dismemberment of that unfortunate 
republic in 1847, ^^^S^^Y o^^ behalf of the pro- 
slavery interests, was now unwilling to make 
Kansas a slave state ! 

But Douglas took up the cause of Walker and on 
December 9, 1857, delivered one of his greatest 
speeches in the Senate in defense of the "squat- 
ters" who claimed the right under his Kansas- 
Nebraska bill of three years before to settle the 
slavery question by popular vote and a fair count. 
Douglas had been meditating such a course 
some time. The work of Walker in Kansas had 
aroused much popular enthusiasm in the North- 
west and Walker had consulted Douglas as to 
the proper policy in Kansas both on his way to 
his post and on his return to Washington in 
November. And Douglas, mindful of the party 
interests, had carried the matter to Buchanan 
before congress assembled and warned him not 
to make the fatal blunder of espousing the 
Lecompton constitution. All to no avail. Doug- 


las indicated to the President that he should op- 
pose the administration and received the threat 
that "no Democrat ever yet differed from an 
administration of his own choice without being 
crushed." To which he rephed : "Mr. President, 
I wish you to remember that General Jackson is 

Douglas was now once again the most popular 
man in public life. Three years before he had 
"sidetracked" Davis's scheme for a Southern 
Pacific railway and put the Democratic party 
in a most difficult position by the introduction 
of his Kansas- Nebraska bill; he had then tasted 
the bitter cup of unpopularity, had heard him- 
self denounced in his home town, had been burned 
in effigy at a thousand bonfires. The South alone 
was pleased. Now he was applauded by the very 
men who had lit the torches of 1854; Horace 
Greeley proposed him for the nominee of the next 
Republican convention, while his own party in 
the Northwest, where men had found it difficult 
to defend him, rallied to him as never before. 
Douglas had broken the democratic element of 
* Johnson: Life of Douglas, 328. 


his party away from its aristocratic and reac- 
tionary moorings. Men like Davis looked on 
in anger and wonder at the audacity of the Lit- 
tle Giant who could neither be cajoled nor 
threatened into support of the regular wing of 
his party. 

From December, 1857, until the count of the 
votes after the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, 
Davis and Buchanan and John Slidell, with all 
the powers of the federal government at their 
command, waged a war upon Douglas which was 
heartless and inveterate in its intense bitterness. 
Postmasters who refused to join the administra- 
tion party were removed from office and Repub- 
lican candidates for the Illinois legislature, which 
was to choose a successor to Douglas, were en- 
dorsed by the Democratic president. Davis 
watched the fight from his summer resort in 
Maine and hardly knew which to condemn the 
loudest — Lincoln's "house-divided" speech or 
Douglas's Freeport doctrine. Both were to him 
treason, the one against the country, the other 
against the Democratic party, the party of govern- 
ment. To a Mississippi audience he said later 


that he only wished the two debaters might, hke 
the famous Kilkenny cats, have killed themselves 
and thus have rid the country of the pest of such 

When it was certain that Douglas would return 
victorious to the Senate in the winter of 1858, 
Davis seeing clearly the nature of the struggle 
declared that the next presidential contest would 
be decided in the national House of Representa- 
tives.^ The Republicans would nominate Seward, 
the Democrats would divide, the insurgents nam- 
ing Douglas as their standard-bearer and the 
Southerners selecting Davis or Yancey, or perhaps 
some border-statesman like Breckinridge. No 
one thought Lincoln would receive the nomina- 
tion or, if nominated, the majority of the votes of 
the country. Thus stood things to Davis on the 
eve of the Charleston and Chicago conventions. 
The historic Democratic party had gone to pieces 
with all its great plans : expansion of the national 
boundaries, trade with the far East, a railway to 
the Pacific and the spread of slavery over the terri- 
tories of the Northwest. One wing v/as South- 

^ Press and Tribune, Chicago, December 2, 1858. 


ern, conservative, reactionary, supported by the 
wealth and respectabihty of the nation and but- 
tressed by the Supreme Court; the other was 
democratic, progressive, relying for its success 
upon the votes of small farmers and mechanics 
and the unparalleled gifts of their leader, Douglas. 
Nothing was clearer than that two men, Davis and 
Douglas, summed up in their persons and their 
policies the ideals of the two factions of the party 
of the country even at that time and these two 
men occupied seats in the Senate. A battle royal 
between abiding forces was on, and no one is sur- 
prised to-day to read in the files of the Washing- 
ton papers of 1859 and i860 that the galleries of 
the Senate were crowded from day to day as the 
fortunes of the one side or the other rose or fell. 
The South must have the votes of the Northwest 
to win; Douglas must command a Southern fol- 
lowing. This was true whether the coming con- 
test was decided at the polls or on the floor of the 


Neither Davis nor Douglas expected that war 
would come as a result of the break between the 


leaders of the South and those of the Northwest. 
Calhoun had said in 1844 that the one thing for 
the South to unite upon was her property rights, 
her one great economic interest, slavery, but he 
had no hopes that such a union could be brought 
about; he did all that could be done to compel 
Southern men to stand together upon this single 
issue, but died in the belief that he had failed and 
without any idea that a great war would be waged 
by the South for these interests. Davis had 
agreed with Calhoun in 1850 and he was then 
ready to secede; in 1858 he had little thought of 
breaking up the Union. He said in Faneuil Hall 
in October, 1858, that the radicals of the East 
and the extremists of the South were to the great 
nationalist masses as flies upon the horn of the ox. 
There was no thought of disunion in any of the 
speeches he delivered in New England that year. 
What Davis really desired was the presidency, 
and if the election should go to the House, he had 
excellent chance of winning his desire. I cannot 
but think that if ever the Cushing papers now at 
Newburyport, Massachusetts, come to light, this 
will be shown and that both Caleb Cushing and 


Benjamin F. Butler went to the Charleston con- 
vention in i860 with this thought nearest their 

Davis thought property rights, and slavery in 
particular, would fare much better under the na- 
tional government than they would be likely to 
fare if secession and civil war followed defeat at 
the polls in i860. In fact he published a letter 
in the Charleston Mercury on November 10, i860, 
declaring against secession. And when in De- 
cember, i860, the Governor of Mississippi called 
a conference of the state's delegation in congress, 
Davis voted against taking any steps that might 
lead to a break-up of the Union. The Mississippi 
senator was absolutely sincere in his desire to 
avert war and when he had been made president 
of the Confederacy he exhausted every resource 
to bring about a peaceful settlement and even at- 
tempted a reconstruction of the Union.* It was 
not Davis's telegram to Beauregard on April 12, 
1 86 1, that caused the first shot to be fired, but the 
decision of four subordinates of Beauregard, 

^ Roger A. Pryor, who then urged war and who ordered 
the firing at Fort Sumter, confirms this view of the author. 


members of the general's staff, Roger A. Pryor, 
Louis T. Wigfall, S. S. Lee, of Charleston, and 
Senator Chestnut, which set the dogs of war to 
their bloody work. Davis authorized Beauregard 
to fire upon the fort if Anderson refused to sur- 
render; Beauregard said the same to these hot- 
headed subordinates; and Anderson replied that 
he would surrender in two days. Pryor and his 
associates did not report to the General, but, 
thinking that Davis was trying to reconstruct 
the Union and negotiate with Seward to that end 
and that the chance of war was about to slip away 
forever, they conferred together and decided to 
give the signal to the gunners to fire — and war 
began, and such a war!^ 

This much to show Davis's attitude. His 
people in Mississippi did not misinterpret his pur- 
pose in 1858. They said he had set his heart upon 
the presidency, and this was not far from the 
truth. He had also come to see what the South 
would lose by secession. If we admit now that 
Jefferson Davis was the spokesman of the South 
and of the great property interests there, that he 

* Conversations with Roger A. Pryor, December 30, 1909. 


commanded the machinery of the Democratic 
party and that he did not aim at breaking up the 
Union — all of which I think just and fair admis- 
sions — what shall we say was his policy, for if he 
did not think clearly and peer into the future 
during the last days of the old regime, no one did. 
One thing is certain. Davis did not misunder- 
stand the meaning of the Lincoln-Douglas contest. 
Lincoln represented in that fight the healthy 
moral, even radical, forces which Bryan and 
others called into action in Chicago in 1896, that 
is, Lincoln stood for the rights of men as against 
the rights of property, for the Declaration of In- 
dependence as against the guarantees of the Con- 
stitution; he denounced a Supreme Court whicH 
declared that negroes had no rights a white man 
need respect and he believed that, if Davis's 
power continued, if the court was not reformed 
and the Democratic party defeated, slavery 
would gain a footing in the Northwest and the 
North might lose its very status in the nation — 
a belief not ill founded if we examine well the 
sources of information now available. These 
ideas of Lincoln and his followers the SoutK 


feared, for the South no longer believed in 

Douglas was nearer to Lincoln than to Davis. 
He insisted that the power of property in congress 
and in the country must be limited, that slavery 
must not be spread over the Northwest, that defi- 
nite limits to Southern expansion had been set by 
climate and geography and he demanded that 
these limits be observed, for this is what his 
"popular sovereignty" meant if it meant anything. 
Douglas was a democrat even if property inter- 
ests of the Northwest were behind him; he be- 
lieved in popular government though he rode on 
private cars or "free passes" supplied by the rail- 
roads which he had aided. There was thus not a 
great difference between Lincoln and his antago- 
nist; and Horace Greeley was not so far in the 
wrong as some people thought when he proposed 
Douglas for the Republican nomination in i860; 
and the followers of Lincoln and Douglas were 
more alike than their leaders. All wanted to limit 
the bounds of slavery, all were disgusted with the 
haughty airs and overbearing conduct of the rul- 
ing element in the Democratic party ; and but for 


the metes and bounds which generations of party 
distinctions and party dislikes set and had set in 
the Northwest in 1858, these warring elements 
would have united and given such a solid majority 
that secession might have been postponed indefi- 
nitely. But in 1858, as in 1908, the real forces 
of reform were held in check by their own party 
prejudices; so that overweening special interests 
and monopoly privileges which preyed upon the 
public were not brought to their proper places in 
the social order, and the cost to the country, im- 
mense as it was during the war which ensued, 
has not been estimated aright nor even realized. 

It was not in the nature of things for Davis 
who occupied the position, say, of Senator Ald- 
rich or Secretary Knox, to read the signs of the 
times aright. Property was born blind; priv- 
ileged interests in America, as formerly in France, 
could not be curbed, it seems, without destruction, 
and destruction is costly. 

The work, then, of the great senator from 
Mississippi, and Davis was a great man, during 
the winters of 1858-59 and 1859-60 was not in 
the Senate nor yet in the committees which he 


controlled, but in guiding and shaping the forces 
which met Douglas in the Charleston convention 
in April, i860. To this end he lent a hand to 
President Buchanan, who also received aid and 
comfort of Wall street, of the high tariff forces 
in Pennsylvania, and of William L. Yancey, the 
Southern orator, who had set his heart upon 
breaking up the nation as it then was. The 
ablest minds of the country were enlisted on the 
side of Davis and the President: Howell Cobb, 
John Slidell, R. M. T. Hunter, Caleb Cushing, 
B. F. Butler, John C. Breckenridge and Jesse D. 
Bright were all engaged on the side, apparently, 
of the "biggest battalions" and much money was 
spent by these men on behalf of their program.^ 
In the Senate Davis re-read the Calhoun reso- 
lutions of December, 1837, and he undertook to 
make them the platform of the party and rule 
Douglas out since the latter could not subscribe 
to the doctrine, put forth by Calhoun twenty years 
before, that congress was duty and honor bound 

* Slidell was reported by the newspapers as being "on 
the ground" at Charleston two weeks before the conven- 
tion met and "spending money freely" for the reactionary 
clement of the Democratic party. 



to protect property (slavery) in the territories, all 
territories north as well as south of the line of 
36° 30'. These resolutions were supported by 
the "regular" wing of the Democracy and de- 
bated from week to week just before and after the 
assembling of the Charleston convention. The 
whole purpose of Davis was to make the strongest 
case possible for slavery, rally the greatest num- 
ber of followers and give his representatives in 
the Democratic national convention all the moral 
support that he could command. Davis and the 
administration thus said to the country that the 
United States was not a nation, but a league of 
states, which was probably true; that congress, 
the agent of the independent states, was compelled 
under the constitution to protect slavery — all 
property recognized in any state — wherever it 
might go, which was also true; that the federal 
courts must thus interpret congressional action, 
and that laws of individual states, which in any 
way connived at the escape of fugitive slaves, 
were revolutionary.^ 

* These resolutions will be found in the Congressional 
Globe, 36th Cong, ist Session, February 2— March i, i860. 


The South demanded the recognition of this 
"new Calhounism" as the doctrine which the 
country must accept, the alternative, in the minds 
of men like Yancey of Alabama and Rhett of 
South Carolina and A. G. Brown of Mississippi, 
being secession. Davis thought that might be a 
lawful alternative, but he was not ready to resort 
to it. He expected as yet to bring the Northwest 
to take his view or to expel Douglas, the exponent 
of the Northwest, from the party which would be 
equivalent to putting three parties into the field, 
the strongest of which would be that of the 
administration and the South. The outcome, as 
almost all politics showed, would be a repetition 
of the situation of 1825. If he were right in 
his view the "regular" nominee of the Charles- 
ton convention would be the next president and 
if secession were resorted to it would be New 
England, not the South, which would make the 

It was also distinctly the policy of Henry A. 
.Wise, 1858 and 1861, to hold fast to the federal 
government, thereby forcing the Abolitionists and 
the Republicans to make war for the possession of 


the capital in case of the failure of the Democrats 
in the elections of i860. Wise said many times 
that he would never surrender the government 
which "Virginia had created," that he would pun- 
ish Abolitionists as the authors of all the trouble. 
Who was dissatisfied ? the South ? No, the radicals 
of the North and East, who declared the Consti- 
tution "a league with hell and a covenant with the 
devil," were the complainants ; they warred upon 
the Supreme Court, upon the states, upon the 
existing order, and they should be punished ; they 
deserved the treatment of traitors.^ This was 
the view of many slaveholders, of former Whigs 
and wealthy Democrats like Joseph Davis of Mis- 
sissippi who knew what risks property owners 
would run if they followed Yancey and Rhett into 
the untried path of secession and independence. 
Jefferson Davis, as spokesman of Mississippi, did 
not so openly express this opinion, but there is 
little reason to doubt that he concurred substan- 
tially with his brother. 

When the Charleston convention failed to 

* Letter to George W. Jones, July 27, 1857. In Iowa 
State Historical Society collection. 


nominate either Douglas or a follower of Davis 
and adjourned to meet again in Baltimore in 
June, i860, Davis was still of the opinion that 
the South might win. Only late in the summer 
after two Democratic "tickets," led by Breckin- 
ridge and Douglas, had been put into the field, did 
he come to think Lincoln's election likely; then 
he went to Douglas and offered to withdraw 
Breckinridge and even Bell — the border states 
candidate — if Douglas would also withdraw from 
the canvass. Douglas could not yield for, as he 
said, most of his followers in the Northwest 
would then support Lincoln who, strange as it 
may appear, had become as conservative as Doug- 
las and whose managers were declaring every day 
that slavery would not suffer if the great Illinois 
Republican came to power. It would be inter- 
esting indeed to know what passed between the 
bitter rivals and enemies on that September day. 
One wonders to-day whether some Eastern sena- 
tor or political manager could thus propose and 
promise changes in the candidates of great 
parties, though the nation of our time is not the 
republic of i860. However that may be, Davis, 


defeated in his plans, retired to his plantation 
in Mississippi to vote, await the returns and 
to give counsel to the lower South. It has 
been seen already that he published his opposi- 
tion to secession in the Charleston Mercury after 
Lincoln's election was conceded, that he later ad- 
vised the governor and the people of Mississippi 
not to secede. In fact he returned early to Wash- 
ington to help Buchanan write his message, to 
discuss with Major Anderson, then stationed at 
Charleston, plans of improving and enlarging 
the Military Academy at West Point where he 
had spent some time during the with 
Anderson, ascertaining the needs of their beloved 
Alma Mater, This was not the attitude of one 
who was preparing to break up the government 
or to launch his craft upon the stormy sea of revo- 
lution. Davis did not think in November or in 
early December that the South ought to with- 
draw from the Union. He hoped to control the 
course of events, or to submit to the incoming 
administration if his friend Seward, who was 
thought to be the master mind in the rival party, 
retained power. Davis knew that Seward was 


himself the owner of slaves and he never had held 
him a sincere man. Why should not Seward 
give the South, especially the large conservative 
element there, what was demanded? Seward 
despised Lincoln, though he had agreed to sit in 
the new cabinet, and it was not at all improbable 
that he would bargain with the "interests" as 
most other statesmen of the North had done. 
As a representative of his class and of his people, 
Davis would not thus have sacrificed any trust or 
violated any of the assumptions of his high sta- 
tion. And this view of his position is confirmed 
by a contemporary document preserved by Henry 
Adams and recently published.^ 

Up to December 25, there was every reason to 
believe that the great pro-slavery party, with its 
vast wealth at stake, its prestige and its actual 
power in question, would win from the representa- 
tives of the new party the sort of promise which 
had been expected from Taylor in 1850 and which 
Clay gave, through Fillmore, as soon as "old 
Rough and Ready" was in his grave — that is, a 

^Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, XLIII, 


promise not to interfere with slavery in the states 
and to allow the extension of the line of 36° 30' 
to the Pacific, which would have meant the return 
of the South to power in 1864 and another slave 
state in southern California. Seward was will- 
ing to grant this, the older Whig-Republican lead- 
ers would gladly have averted secession with such 
a compromise. Lincoln alone refused to make 
any bargain, though it may safely be assumed 
that had he foreseen what was in store for him 
and the country he, too, would have yielded and 
the "interests*' would have secured another lease 
of power. 

The party of Jefferson had thus been trans- 
formed from an organization of small farmers 
and backwoods men, idealists in governmental 
theory, believers in the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, to one which was dominated by the "inter- 
ests," one whose dealers enjoyed special privileges 
in the state and who could wield the whole weight 
of Southern opinion and power in Washington 
without losing the support of the loyal masses 
at home. As parties grow old they, like govern- 
ments, abandon their idealism, become absolutist 


in theory as well as in practice. The Jefferson 
party was no exception to the rule notwithstand- 
ing the heritage of its founder. Before the first 
Republican president had served out his second 
term his followers in Virginia were urging the 
Southern Federalists to join their ranks and 
promising the greatest possible security to slave 
property. When Calhoun came to leadership in 
congress he was not sure what attitude to take, 
and in 1820 he approved the policy of restricting 
the area of slavery; but in 1833 he became an ex- 
treme protagonist of this form of property. 
Thomas Ritchie, a true Democrat in the first part 
of his career as an editor and leader of Virginia, 
was for a long time an anti-slavery man at heart 
and was about to cast the weight of his great 
paper, the Richmond Enquirer, into the scales of 
the emancipation party in Virginia in 1831. For 
some reason he took definitely the pro-slavery 
view, and the Democratic party in the state of 
Jefferson became the party of slavery, rivaling 
the national Republicans who, as the party of the 
gentry, had been pro-slavery from the beginning, 
despite their strong affiliations in New England. 


From Calhoun to Jefferson Davis was a long step. 
Slavery, as a blessing to the South and the world, 
was the parent of slavery, a divinely established 
order for which all true Southerners must take 
up arms. Yet Calhoun, Ritchie and Davis all 
claimed to be the followers of the author of the 
Declaration of Independence. The party which 
chose Buchanan and sustained his administration, 
which outlawed Douglas and repudiated Walker 
in Kansas, was the party which had been based 
upon a program of reform, of broad human rights, 
of anti-slavery ideals, a half century before. 
Great men who gloried in the Dred Scott decision 
honestly thought themselves followers of the man 
who attacked the Supreme Court of Marshall's 
day as "sappers and miners of the Constitution." 
"A negro has no rights which a white man need 
respect" was not a doctrine which could have 
emanated from Jefferson. 

Thus far had property rights and a privileged 
status in the nation brought many of the ablest 
men of that generation, and to such extremes 
special privilege and great wealth lead to-day as 
certainly as in i860. The only essential differ- 


ence between the magnates who exploit the re- 
sources of the country and rule the Senate in 191 1 
and their predecessors of 1861 is the lack of a 
general belief in a doctrine of states rights which 
would justify secession. Davis acted, when he 
failed to negotiate in i860 a tacit treaty with 
Seward, in the same way that many another 
Davis of our time would act if there were 
any appeal to a friendly but inflamed public 
mind. There was talk of secession in 1896 in 
cities which poured out their blood to suppress 
the cause of the South in i860. Jefferson Davis 
only acted with his class when he laid down with 
much dignity and dramatic effect his senatorial 
robes in 1861 and journeyed sadly toward his 
Southern home. Perhaps most of us would fol- 
low in his footsteps, if we could to-day, rather 
than sacrifice great wealth and a privileged posi- 
tion in society. 



Adams^ J. Q., 110, 112. 

Allen, William, Senator 
from Ohio, 157. 

Atchison, David, of Mis- 
souri, 199, 202, 

Baptists, 14, 21, 54. 
Barry, William T., 123. 
Beauregard, P. G. T., 220. 
Bell, John, of Tennessee, 

Belmont, August, 210. 
Benjamin, Judah P., 211. 
Benton, Tkomas H., 159, 

Berrien, J. M., 123. 
Beverly, William, 6. 
BiRNEY, John G., 82. 
Branch, John, of North 

Carolina, 123, 
Breckinridge, John C., 235. 
Bright, Jesse D., 208, 225. 
Brown, Alexander G., 184, 

206, 227. 
Buchanan, James, 216. 
Butler, Benjamin F., 220, 


Calhoun, John C. Parent- 
age, 92 ; early schooling, 
93 ; in college, 94 ; mar- 
riage, 97 ; in congress, 99 ; 
as a "Young Republican," 
101, 104; internal improve- 
ments and the tariff, 107; 
in the cabinet, 109; first 
aspirations for the presi- 

dency, 112; defeats tariflE 
bill 1827, 114; the South 
Carolina Exposition, 116; 
break with Jackson, 119; 
124; nullification, 129; in 
the Senate, 131 ; a nation- 
alist, 134; attitude toward 
slavery, 135, 139 ; opinion 
of Dew, 137; supports Van 
Buren, 138; efforts to unite 
the South and West, 140, 
162, 219; aspires for nom- 
ination 1844, 142; in Ty- 
ler's cabinet, 144; Memphis 
speech, 148, 149; its recep- 
tion at the South, 152 ; re- 
turn to Senate, 154; Texas 
and Oregon, 155 ; Ten Reg- 
iments bill, 157; opposition 
to Wilmot proviso, 159 ; 
death and subsequent in- 
fluence, 164. 

Campbell, William, 26, 

Carr, Dabney, 20. 

Carter, John, 7. 

Cass, Lewis, iS7, i59> 186, 

Chase, Salmon P., 202, 210. 

Cheves, Langdon, 102, 114. 

Clay, Henry, 85, 99. 102, 
105, i09> no, 115, ii7> 127, 
131. 132, 134. 141. 

Clark, George Rogers, 27. 

Cobb, Howell, 209, 225. 

Cooper, Thomas, 114. 

Crawford, William H., 85. 
iio, 113. 119 




Gushing, Caleb, 192, 195, 
20s, 220, 225. 

Davis, Jefferson, 66, 152. 
Parentage, 173; education, 
176; marriage, 178; cotton 
planter, 179; in congress, 
181 ; lieutenant of Walk- 
er's, 184; in Mexican war, 
185 ; in the Senate, 186 ; 
favors annexation of all 
Mexico, 156, 187; South- 
ern policy, 188; supports 
Cass against Taylor, 188 ; 
debate virith Foote, 191 ; in 
Pierce's cabinet, 192; per- 
sonal appearance, 193 ; 
Southern Pacific scheme, 
194» i9S» 200 ; checkmated 
by Douglas, 198, 203 ; be- 
gins reforms in War De- 
partment, 204; imperialist, 
205, 206 ; succeeds to Cal- 
houn's leadership, 209 ; ad- 
visor of Buchanan's, 211 ; 
denounces Walker, 213; 
opposes Douglas, 216, 225 ; 
hopes of presidency i860, 
218, 219; opposes seces- 
sion, 220, 230 ; retires to 
Mississippi, 230 ; hopes for 
compromise from Republi- 
cans, 231, resigns from 
Senate 1861, 235. 

Davis, Joseph, 228. 

Dew, Thomas R., 81, 136. 

Dodge, A. C, of Wisconsin, 
148, 200. 

Dodge, Henry, of Iowa, 148, 

Donelson, a. J., 145. 

Douglas, Stephen A., 148, 
194, 197. 20X, 208, 213, 223, 

Eaton, John H,, 123. 
Embargo, The, 61, 66. 
Everett, Edward, 85. 

Foote, Henry S., 184, 191. 
Force bill. The, 133. 
Forsyth, John, 212. 

Gadsden, James, of South 
Carolina, 148 

Gallatin, Albert, 51, 57. 

Giles, William B., 75, 78, 

Greeley, Horace, 223. 

Grundy, Felix, of Tennes- 
see, 99, 105. 

Guthrie, James, of Ken- 
tucky, 197. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 44. 
Hamilton, James A., 119. 
Harris, Townsend, 205. 
Harrison, William Henry, 

Henry, Patrick, 4, 14, 15,, 

16, 19, 26, 27, 38, 47. 
Hunt, Randall, 138. 
Hunter, R. M. T., 209, 225. 

Internal improvements, 107. 

Jackson, Andrew, 65, iii, 
112, 130, 132, 137. 

Jefferson, Thomas. Parent- 
age, 3 ; education, 5 ; pop- 
ularity at college, 8 ; be- 
gins practice of law, 10 ; 
marriage, 11 ; prefers farm- 
ing to law, 12; Western 
sympathies, 18, 19; parti- 
san of Henry's, 20 ; ideals 
of the party, 21 ; believer 
in democracy, 23, 31, 33, 
55> 73 ', in Continental 
Congress, 29 ; member of 
Virginia legislature, 32 ; 
breaks with Henry, 35, 41 ; 
in Congress 1781, 37; min- 
ister to France, 39 ; returns 
to Virginia, 43 ; organizes 
new party, 46, 48, 54 ; vice- 
president, 50 ; unpopularity 
in office, 51 ; elected presi- 



dent, 57 ; non-partisan, 59 ; 
Louisiana Purchase, 59 ; 
the Embargo, 61 ; hostility 
•to the Virginia constitu- 
tion, 67, 75 ; attitude toward 
slavery, 69, 71, 77, 79; op- 
ponent of Virginia court 
system, 71 ; favors a "re- 
call" of legislators, 73 ; 
and wider suffrage, 74 ; ef- 
forts at reform, 76 ; last 
days, 82. 

Jones, George W., 200, 209. 

Johnston, Albert Sidney, 

KiRCHEVAL, Samuel, 74, 75. 

Lawrence, Abbott, of Massa- 
chusetts, 142. 
Lee, Henry, 49. 
Lee, R. H., 6, 16, 19, 24. 
Lee, Robert E., 204. 
Lee, S. S., 221. 
Lewis, William B., 118, 119. 
Lincoln, A., 221. 
Logan, George, 51. 
Louisiana Purchase, 59. 
Lowndes, William, 102, 109. 

Macon, Nathaniel, 51, 57, 

67, 71. 
Madison, James, 20, 21, 46, 

Marshall, John, 49, 52, 70, 


Mason, George, 19. 

Mason, James M., 162. 

McClellan, George B., 204. 

McClellan, Robert, of Mich- 
igan, 197. 

McDuFFiE, George, of South 
Carolina, 79, 94, 114, 127. 

Methodists, The, 14, 54. 

Memphis Convention, 148. 

Nashville Convention, 163. 
Nicholas, Wilson Carey, 
34, 83. 

Nullification, 129, 137. 
O'Neal, Peggy, 121. 

Pendleton, Edmund, 26, 27, 

Pettigru, James L., 94. 
Pierce, Franklin, 192. 
Pinckney, Charles, 58. 
Polk, James K., 146, 154, 

157, i6i. 
Porter, Peter B., of New 

York, 99. 
Presbyterians, The, 14, 21, 

Prentiss, Sergeant S., 181. 
Pryor, Roger A., 221. 

Quitman, John A., of Mis- 
sissippi, 184, 185. 

Randolph, Isham, 3. 

Randolph, John, 48, 130. 

Randolph, Martha Jeffer- 
son, 88. 

Rankin, John, 82. 

Rhett, Robert Barnwell, 
162, 227. 

Ritchie, Thomas, 140, 143, 
147, 152, 233. 

Roane, Spencer, 21. 

Robinson, John, 16, 17, 18. 

Schurz, Carl, 193. 

Sedgwick, Theodore, of Mas- 
sachusetts, 51. 

Seward, William H., 210, 
217, 230. 

Shelby, Isaac, 109. 

Shields, James, of Minne- 
sota, 208. 

Slavery. Its growth in Vir- 
ginia, 77 ; interstate slave 
trade, 78; the South and 
slavery, 134; 207, 234. 

Slidell, John, 212, 216, 225. 

Smiley, John, of Pennsyl- 
vania, 102. 

Smith, William A., of Vir- 
ginia, 114, 138. 



South Carolina. Exports 
1810, 103; leads in con- 
gress, 103, 114; South Car- 
olina Exposition, 116. 

Stephens, Alexander H., of 
Georgia, 191. 

Sumner, Charles, 202. 

Tariff, The, 107, 114, 132, 
134, 210. 

Taylor, John, of Caroline, 
21, 67, 71. 

Taylor, Zachary, 189. 

Tazewell, Littleton W., 75. 

Thompson, Jacob, 184. 

TiCKNOR, George, 85. 

Tracy, Uriah, of Connecti- 
cut, SI. 

Van Buren, Martin, 118, 

138, 141. 
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 210. 

Virginia. Exports 1810, 103 ; 
court system, y2 ; growth 
of sectionalism, 15, 16. 

Walker, Robert J., 144, 157, 

181, 183, 18s, 212, 213. 
Washington, George, 49, 59. 
Webster, Daniel, 151. 
Weld, Theodore, 82. 
WiGFALL, Louis T., 221. 
Williamsburg, Society at, 6, 

Wilmot proviso, 158. 
Winthrop, Robert, of Mas- 

sachussetts, 142. 
Wise, Henry A., 185, 209, 

Wood, Fernando, 210. 
Wright, Jos. A., Governor 

of Indiana, 208. 

Yancey, William L., 162, 
217, 225, 227, 

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